SIS alumni are on the forefront of re-opening efforts for Michigan libraries

Valerie Meyerson, Megan Buck and Lance Werner

The Michigan Library Association hosted the MLA Connect Coffee Hour: Reopening Plans featuring panelists Megan Buck, Valerie Meyerson and Lance Werner. The three panelists, all SIS alumni, discussed the development, phases and challenges of their library reopening plans.

Lance Werner, MLIS ‘04, director of the Kent District Library, shared the steps his library will take to ensure a safe reopening that follows the guidance and guidelines of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“The needs that are placed on a library are going to be higher than ever. We have kids that have been out of school for a months and months. There are a lot of people who are unemployed. I anticipate that we will be busier than ever,” Werner said. “I think it’s a real opportunity for all of the libraries to step up and provide transformational service and to establish ourselves as a critical community partner. What we do during these difficult times will define who we are as a profession for years and years to come and I look forward to the challenge.” 

Megan Buck, MLIS ’10, director of the Dickinson County Library in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, presented a multi-phase plan that will be implemented for the library’s three branches. Buck’s team began the planning process by surveying staff and found that the level of comfort in reopening the library varied greatly. Her priority is to find a safe and sustainable option for the library’s employees and patrons.

Valerie Meyerson, MLIS ’88, director of the Petoskey District Library, says that the idea of a phased plan began before the closure, and was implemented in order to cut back services before the library was closed to the public.

“The beauty of a phased re-opening is that if there is an uptick in the number of viruses, we’re able to move back to Level 1, or move back and forth through the phases as needed,” said Meyerson.

In addition to social distancing and other restrictions and precautions that will be taken to ensure safety, each of the phased plans includes options for the libraries to offer curbside services to patrons until the libraries are completely reopened. And some libraries may continue to offer curbside service indefinitely.

The complete presentation as well as additional library reopening plans and resources can be found on the Michigan Library Association’s website.

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