Reopening Plan: Phase 3 FAQs

Phase 3 of the library's Reopening Plan has now been launched. Due to COVID-19, the Bob Harkins Branch (downtown) is open for limited service Tuesday-Friday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday 10 am-2 pm. The Nechako Branch (Hart) is open Monday-Friday 10 am-6pm.

Both branches of the library have now launched Phase 3 of the plan to resume library services. Phase 3 provides limited access to library facilities for holds pickup and browsing. There is also limited computer/internet service available. Enhanced health and safety protocols will continue to be required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures will impact how we provide service, and things will likely look very different. Staff and patrons should expect a “new normal.”

What are the different phases in the plan to resume services at the Prince George Public Library?

  • Phase 1 (in effect): Permit patrons to return borrowed materials to the library.
  • Phase 2 (no longer available): Resume lending of physical library materials via curbside holds pickup at both branches.
  • Phase 3 (in effect at Bob Harkins Branch): Limited access for holds pickup and browsing; limited computer and internet access; washrooms available.
  • Phase 4 (in effect at Nechako Branch): Reopen entire collection for patron browsing; sitting areas will remain unavailable.
  • Phase 5 (unknown): Resume in-person programs.
  • Phase 6 (unknown): Resume full access to library facilities, with physical distancing and other safety measures in effect.

What does ‘limited access’ mean?

Limited access refers to temporary measures that allow the public access to as many services and physical collections as possible while still ensuring the health and well-being of our staff and patrons.

For now, this means brief visits to pick up holds, borrow materials and use computers while maintaining safe physical distancing so that people can use the library as quickly and safely as possible. More services will be phased in over time as it becomes safe to do so.

How can I keep myself and others safe?

BC’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 is a direct result of the sacrifices and decisions that we have all made. To continue to protect seniors and at risk people and ensure that our health care system can respond to this dangerous virus, we all have to continue doing our part – at home, in the community and at work.

  • Stay at home and keep a safe distance from family when you have cold or flu symptoms, including:
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
  • No handshaking or hugs outside of your family
  • Practice good hygiene, including:
    • Regular hand washing
    • Avoiding touching your face
    • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Keep physical distancing as much as possible when in the community, and where not possible consider using a non-medical mask or face covering
  • In personal settings when you’re seeing friends and family who don’t live with you:
    • Gather together in small groups of around 2 to 6 people and maintain adequate physical distance
    • Stay home and away from others if you have cold or flu symptoms
  • If you are at greater risk (over the age of 60 or with underlying medical conditions), be informed of your risk and think through your risk tolerance and take extra precautions

What measures will be put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to Prince George Public Library staff and patrons?

The Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recommends taking the following steps to reduce risks of transmission:

  • Physical distancing measures – measures to reduce the density of people (capacity limits in branches and library spaces, relocating furniture & shelving to reduce congestion)
  • Engineering controls – physical barriers (like plexiglass on service desks), or increased ventilation
  • Administrative controls – clear rules and guidelines (COVID-19 Safety Plan, posted rules that staff and patrons must adhere to)
  • Personal protective equipment – (non-medical masks and visors worn by staff and patrons)

What are the new hours of operation?

At Nechako Branch, we are open Monday–Friday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. The branch is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

At Bob Harkins Branch, we are open Tuesday–Friday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. The branch is closed on Sunday and Monday.

When and where are returns accepted?

At Nechako Branch, returns are accepted only in the exterior book drop. Book drops at both branches are open 24/7.

Will there be a limit to the number of people accessing the branches?

Yes. There are occupancy limits established for each branch. At Nechako Branch, the occupancy limit for patrons is 15. At Bob Harkins Branch, the occupancy limit for patrons is 20. Capacity may be increased or decreased during Phase 3.

These limits do not apply to staff work spaces which will be organized to facilitate physical distancing between staff members.

What can I expect when booking a computer/internet session?

Computer sessions must be booked in person. Sessions are a maximum of 45 minutes, with a limit of one session per day. Patrons will receive a ticket with their session time when they book.

Which services will be unavailable during Phase 3?

The following services remain suspended at this time:

  • Browsing the second floor of Bob Harkins Branch
  • In-person programs and events
  • Lost & Found services
  • Pirate ship, toys, and children's play areas
  • Children's computers
  • Any technology assistance that requires handling of patrons' personal devices or items
  • Any technology/computer support that requires staff to be within 2 metres of patrons
  • Reference/information questions taking longer than 10 minutes
  • Sitting, reading, studying, or hanging out in library spaces
  • Room/space rentals
  • Study rooms

    What other changes can we expect?

    • Patrons will be encouraged to wear masks.
    • Children under 12 years must be accompanied by a person 16 years or older at all times. Family groups should stay together during their visit
    • Patrons who are coughing or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including persistent cough or sneezing, fever, etc., may be asked to leave the library
    • Patrons must book computer sessions, and are limited to one 45 minute session per day
    • The single-use, accessible washroom is available without key access

      Why is the library opening when other civic facilities remain closed?

      The Prince George Public Library is an employer that is separate from the City of Prince George under the Labour Relations Code of BC. The Library Board governs the Library and makes decisions regarding its operation and facilities. Learn more at www.pgpl.ca/policies.

      In addition, the library has continued to serve the public since the branches closed on March 16th. Since our closure, we’ve continued to offer access to digital collections, online courses, virtual programs, and reference services via phone and mail. From May until July, we made library materials available to patrons through our Curbside Holds Pickup Service.

      When will in-person programs like Baby Time resume?

      The health and safety of our patrons and staff is our top priority. In-person programs for children, teens, and adults remain suspended at this time.

      We will continue to offer virtual programs and activities throughout the summer. We do not anticipate offering small, limited registration in-person programs until at least 2021.

      Large in-person programs and events will not resume until Phase 4 of B.C.’s Restart Plan. Unfortunately, we are unable to exercise physical distancing in our program space, where people gather indoors for long periods, often using shared materials.