Policy: Library Building Re-opening, a Phased Response


The re-opening of the Library building, and the expansion of Library services, in response to a pandemic, epidemic, public health concern, and/or public infection concern will come at the direction of the City of White Plains and the Library Board of Trustees, informed by opinion from the Health Department of Westchester County, State of New York, the State of New York’s Division of Library Development, Center for Disease Control, and other public health authorities.

Return to the Library building will not mean an immediate return to a pre-pandemic environment. This undertaking will happen in five phases, guided by the health, safety, and well being of our staff members and public. New health and safety protocols will be in place, and will be modified as needed. We would rather introduce services incrementally rather than have to subtract services.

As much as possible, the Library will work with other members of the Westchester Library System to support a system-wide response.

It is expected that it may take many months before the phases are complete and the Library is as fully operational as it was pre-pandemic, including hosting events for 125+ participants. The development of a successful vaccine is key to full operation.

In addition, Library management needs to remain alert to the possibility of reversion to early phases of operation if the rate of infection increases and government mandates to shelter are reinstated.
Re-opening, Phase One 

Staff members return to the Library to prepare for the reopening of the building. 

  • Timeframe: a minimum of two weeks before the Library reopens to the public.
  • Context: The stay-at-home order is lifted by local authorities for the phase that includes libraries. Physical distancing and PPE are required of staff. The Library has successfully stockpiled PPE and sanitation supplies for three months.
  • Summary: Library staff work to prepare the building for safe practices including the implementation of social distancing, reconfiguration of public and staff space, new signage, and reduced technology. 
  • Circulation: The Library will use this period to accept the return of material via the external book drop, and material will be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours then checked in and re-shelved. Material owned by other libraries will be returned to the lending library; however, the Library will not initiate fulfilling interlibrary loan requests through the Westchester Library System.
  • Circulation: The Library initiates no-touch, curbside pickup
  • Public services points, like reference and circulation desks, are redesigned utilizing acrylic walls and barriers to eliminate as much as possible staff and public contact. 
  • Procedures to eliminate or minimize high touch areas and physical interaction are implemented.
  • Staff workspaces will be relocated to throughout the building and workrooms and scheduling will be reconfigured to support social distancing.
  • Staff will wear PPE and will be trained in use of PPE and new hygiene procedures. Staff will be provided with a new mask daily. 
  • Elevators will be used by one person at a time.
  • Reference Services: Will continue via phone, text, and email. 
  • Programs: Will continue on the virtual platform. 
  • Staff will continue to work both onsite and from home at their manager’s discretion.
  • Maintenance staff will implement new cleaning procedures and schedules. 

Reopening, Phase Two

Context: Stay-at-home order is lifted by state and local authorities and the reopening phases would allow for libraries to reopen.

Summary: the Library will open primarily to support the browsing and lending of materials.  Seating will be removed from all public areas. Public computing will be put on hold. Extended stays or gatherings will be prohibited.

The Library’s hours will be Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

To provide a safe environment for all, the library will:

  • Implement the “COVID-19 Best Practices Policy,” adopted by the Library Board of Trustees. This requires the use of face masks by all library patrons. 
  • Allow access to the first floor, including the Edge, to 20 visitors at a time for 45 minute visits.
  • Allow access to the Trove to one family at a time for 45 minute visits.
  • Limit all circulation activities to the first floor.
  • Put on hold high touch services: copy machines, printers, and other services.
  • Hire security staff that will be charged with overseeing public conduct and the use of PPE.
  • Elevator use will be by one person or family at a time.
  • Implement interlibrary loan through the Westchester Library System
  • Other modifications may be implemented.


  • The Library will lend material only through self-check machines and accept returns only through the book drop. 
  • In-person assistance will be limited.
  • Curbside pickup will be replaced by our regular holds system. 
  • Following best practices, material will be quarantined for a minimum of 96 hours then checked in and reshelved.
  • Payments can only be made with credit card

Reference Services

  • Limited reference services will begin. 
  • Patrons can make appointments for one-on-one consultations.
  • Telephone, texting and email references will continue


  • Public computing is not available. 
  • Laptops may become available by appointment for job searching, with support via screen share.


  • All programs will continue on Zoom through 2020. 


  • SCORE will provide in person mentoring to one participant at a time, utilizing social distancing, in Classroom Two.
  • SCORE offices will be occupied by only two volunteers at a time.

Reopening, Phase Three

Additional services will be added.

Anticipated Date: dependent on local and state assessment of risk.

Context: Physical distancing is still recommended, but infections have significantly declined. PPE and sanitizing supplies are predictable and plentiful.

Summary: Some seating is introduced to public areas but configured to allow for physical distance. New services include:

  • Implement public computing. Provide computer users with gloves, and provide disinfectant wipes for cleaning washable keyboards before and after sessions. Provide computer assistance through screen sharing.
  • Reference Services: Staffing at service desks will expand. Most services, such as lending hotspots or museum passes, will be reintroduced. Patrons will still be encouraged to book one-on-one sessions with staff. Telephone, texting and email references will continue.
  • Programs: Will continual on the virtual platform.. 
  • Patrons will still be expected to adhere to the “COVID-19 Best Practices Policy,” adopted by the Library Board of Trustees. This requires the use of face masks by all library patrons. 

Reopening, Phase Four

Anticipated Date: dependent on local and state assessment of risk

  • Context: Infection threat is low. Physical distancing guidelines have been relaxed. PPE may become optional for some staff.
  • Summary: All seating and most computers are returned to the first and second floor. 
  • Circulation: Will continue to emphasize self-checkout and return by book drop.  Payment can be made by cash and credit card. Quarantining of materials may be lifted.
  • Reference Services. All service points fully staffed and all services restored. 
  • Programs: Allow for smaller group programs for all ages. There may be limitations on larger group gatherings. No room rentals. Many programs will continue on the virtual platform or blend in-person and virtual attendance. 

Reopening, Phase Five

Anticipated Date: dependent on local and state assessment of risk.

Context: Infection threat is considered low or non-existent, there are successful medical treatments or a vaccine.

Summary: While all services will be restored to their pre-pandemic levels, the experience of the pandemic will continue to inform library operations. This will include heightened awareness of personal and building hygiene and the retention of distance in interactions, such as meeting online.

  • Programs: Larger group gatherings for meetings or library programs are allowed. Room rentals are reinstated. Staff can resume outreach, community engagement, class visits, off-site programs.

Reopening, Staff Behavior

The Library’s most precious resource is its staff. Successful reopening after a pandemic, epidemic, public health concern, and/or public infection concern will require the commitment of everyone, both Library management and Library workers, to create a healthy environment. In addition to the public health measures outlined in section III, the following measures should be applied at all levels of reopening, from Phase One through Phase Five.

  • Library management will provide PPE and abundant sanitary and cleaning products. If a staff member chooses to use gloves, he or she should replace the gloves several times a day and continue to wash their hands regularly.
  • Library management will oversee the daily cleaning of the Library, including all public surfaces.
  • The Library will contract with professional cleaners and utilize our regular maintenance staff to maintain a clean facility. However, we all need to pitch in. Staff is expected, in the course of the day, to disinfect personal areas, shared workspaces—such as service desks—when ending a shift, and commonly touched items in staff areas such as copy machines, coffee pot handles, and more.
  • Staff should avoid meeting people face-to-face. Staff is encouraged to use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail, or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible. 
  • Unavoidable in-person meetings should be short and held in meeting room where people can sit at least six feet from each other. Hand shaking is prohibited.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel. Seek out online training opportunities. 
  • Do not congregate in workrooms, staff rooms, or other areas. Keep six feet apart at all times. 

COVID-19 Best Practices Policy: Code of Conduct Addendum

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