Mat-Su libraries prepare for full reopening

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PALMER (KTUU) - After the governor announced that the state will fully reopen on Friday, May 22nd, libraries across the state will soon be able to have patrons come through the doors once again. In the Mat-Su, it is expected to still be a gradual process according to Borough Recreation and Libraries Services Manager, Hugh Leslie.

Leslie said this week, they've been opening the five public libraries individually, one per day. They've implemented a number of new cleaning protocols and safety measures for each one.

Yesterday, he said the Sutton Library was partially opened, and about 50 people waited to use the facilities.

Libraries are important resources for people in the Mat-Su according to Leslie, especially the ones living in more rural areas who don't have internet services.

"It's not uncommon to see the same people in two or three times a week. Some people go every day," he said, "it's just a real core part of those communities. It's been a real struggle for those folks while we've been closed."

For those going inside, he said they will see tables and desks spread further apart to promote social distancing. For now, only 20 people are allowed inside at a time and children may not be allowed inside without a parent.

"What we planned for was kind of the worst case scenario by limiting the number people and being able to respond when somebody leaves a work station or somebody leaves a computer. That was done with input from our site managers," he said, "I think we have a good program in place."

Leslie added that the libraries have been closed aside from curbside pickup for about two months. So even though they are allowed to open up to capacity, they will wait until at least next Tuesday, the 25th, before they change what they're doing.

"We need to get used to having the people back in the building a little bit before we throw the doors wide open," he said.

He does believe that Mat-Su libraries are in good shape to open up further, after they practice their current protocols further.

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