Talbot County Free Library Reopening FAQ
The Talbot County Free Library welcomes you back to the Easton Library starting Monday, August 17, 2020 and to the St. Michael's Library starting Monday, August 24. For everyone’s safety, we are offering limited services and hours to reduce contact and close interactions and to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The safety and health of our patrons and staff is our priority. Thank you for following guidelines and for your patience and flexibility as we move through this time together.
What measures is the library taking to keep patrons and staff safe?
The library is taking a number of precautions to limit personal contact and follow social distancing guidelines including:
- Library patrons and staff over the age of two are required to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth. For those who do not have a face covering, one will be provided while supplies last.
- Patrons showing symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to refrain from entering library buildings.
- Patrons are asked to maintain a social distance of 6’ between one another and staff. Our buildings have been prepared to accommodate social distancing. Please follow all social distancing signage and markers.
- To maintain social distancing standards, the number of patrons in our libraries will be limited based on the square footage of the building.
- Easton Library: 27 (including up to 10 in the Children's area)
- St. Michael's Library: 8
- To ensure that as many patrons as possible may use the Library, each visitor is limited to a maximum visit of one-hour (or less if it is nearing mid-day or end-of-day closing time).
- Patrons may be asked to wait in line outside the building until we have space for additional patrons. While in line, please follow social distancing guidelines and keep at least six feet between you and other patrons. A staff member will let patrons know when they may enter the library. Staff will monitor entrances and exits, and will try to accommodate groups larger than 6 if possible. Larger groups may have to wait before entering.
- Patrons entering with children 8 years and younger must stay together to ensure children maintain social distance from others.
- Seating and the number of computers available throughout the library has been reduced and placed at least 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing.
- Plexiglas shields have been installed at all public service desks.
- Hand-sanitizer is provided at service desks for patron use and frequent hand washing is encouraged.
The following occupancy limits apply:
While the library is taking safety and cleaning measures, we cannot guarantee the cleanliness of materials or equipment as public libraries are high touch facilities. The risk of entering a public facility is your own. We will clean high touch surfaces frequently; however the availability of cleaning supplies is limited.
What hours is the library open?
TCFL locations currently have reduced hours to allow extra time for disinfection and cleaning spaces each day. Hours for both libraries are:
Monday and Thursday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.*, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.*, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
*Library is closed mid-day for cleaning.
At this time, the TCFL is closed on Saturday.
- Computer use is available on a self-serve basis. Staff may be able to answer some questions at the Information Desk, but will be unable to accompany patrons to the computer area to provide more in-depth help, due to the need for physical distancing.
- Computer sessions will be limited to a maximum of one hour a day, to allow others to use the library. Please take care of printing before your session ends. Sessions may be shorter in length near mid-day or end-of-day closing time.
- Computer areas will be cleaned frequently.
- Keyboard covers will be used for patron safety.
Will Books-To-Go service continue?
Books-To-Go has been discontinued at the Easton Library and will be discontinued at the St. Michaels branch as of Friday, August 21, 2020 (as they will be opening for limited service on Monday, August 24). Patrons may pick up holds at the circulation desk of each branch.
Have any changes been made to check out procedures?
- Patrons are encouraged to use the self-check station at each branch to checkout materials.
- Check out of materials is not available at the children’s desk at this time. Materials for check out should be taken to the circulation desk.
What if I don't feel comfortable coming into the library to pick up holds?
A family member or friend may pick up your holds by presenting your library card to check out your materials.
Will holds take longer to become available during this time?
As we are quarantining returned materials before checking items in, there will be delays in delivering holds materials to the next patron.
Can I request materials from other libraries on the Eastern Shore or through Interlibrary Loan?
No, unfortunately our delivery service is not running between libraries for holds. We will update this information as we have it.
Are there any limitations on browsing while I am at the library?
- Magazines and Newspapers are not available for browsing or check out.
- Board books, Launchpads, Science kits and other book kits are not available for browsing or check out.
- The Maryland Room is closed. Maryland Room reference service is available by email only at email@example.com
What if I have materials to donate to the Library?
Unfortunately, the Talbot County Free Library is unable to accept material donations at this time.
How is TCFL caring for returned materials?
The library is quarantining returned materials for at least 7 days before check-in to ensure that any potential for contamination is removed, following best practices recommended by the State Library Resource Center. Please allow at least 7 days for items to clear your account after you have returned them.
How do I return materials to the library during this time?
Please return materials, such as books, DVDs, CDs and audiobooks, to the book drops outside our locations. Please return Wi-Fi hotpots and Chromebooks to the circulation desk inside. If there is a wait, Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks may be returned to the staff greeter near the entrance. Other materials will not be accepted at the circulation desk.
When will you be holding in-person programs and events again?
- Any in-person programming or events will depend on guidelines from the State and Talbot County Health Department. We do not anticipate any Library programs or events at our locations through the fall.
- Please visit tcfl.org or our Facebook page to find out more about our Summer Reading program for patrons of all ages and other fun virtual programs.
Can I book a meeting room or use a study room?
Our meeting rooms and study rooms are closed until further notice.
What changes have been made to the children’s area?
- Kid’s learning computers are not available-at this time.
- Children’s toys have been removed because they cannot easily be sanitized.
- The children’s garden is closed.
What other changes have been made to the building?
- Water fountains and hand dryers are not operational.
- Some furniture, seating and tables have been removed to allow for physical distancing between patrons.
What are the limits to other services?
Book sale items are not available at this time.
Copy machines are self-service only at the Easton library. Staff may only be able to provide limited assistance. All copying at the St. Michaels library will be done by staff. Please ask for assistance at the Circulation desk.
What happens next for the library?
We have developed a phased reopening plan that allows us to increase or decrease service as necessary based on pandemic trends. We will continue to follow CDC recommendations as well as state and county orders.
Depending on the number of cases in Talbot County or other circumstances related to the pandemic, we may be forced to return to previous restrictions such as offering our books-to-go service or to closing one or both branches once again for an extended period. We apologize in advance should this become necessary.