CULC/CBUC Toolkit on Recovery & Reimagined Public Library Services Post COVID-19

The Built Environment

Key Considerations

Capacity & Layout (assumptions – social distancing = 2m)

  • Will the public be restricted based upon total occupant load of the building or capacity of an area/space? and how will that be done?
  • What are the unique challenges of each branch? (i.e. leased space, multiple floors, co-located with other municipal and non-municipal uses)?
  • Does the library need to submit a “plan” of how it is meeting public health requirements prior to opening?
  • What is the decision-making framework for changes to the facility? Who signs off on plans/renovations? Will some areas need to be cordoned off? Move to closed stacks?
  • Which areas in the library are high priority for modifying to allow for social distancing? Computer lab/area, service points, entrances/exits, shelving aisles- directional limits (ex. one-way aisles), meeting rooms, reading lounges/seating areas
  • Where should quarantined materials be held (program room? expanded book-drop areas?)
  • What work could be done prior to re-opening to improve capacity? weeding of collection?

Building Systems

  • Are HVAC systems maintained and working well?
  • Can windows in the building be opened safely?
  • Is it preferable for the AMH to be used over staff handling materials? What is the most effective way to clean your AMH machine(s)?
  • What changes are required to existing contracts? (e.g. cafe, maintenance, janitorial)

Furniture & Finishes

  • Which surfaces and finishes are more susceptible to contamination and how long does the virus live? (research is evolving)
  • How are high touch surfaces identified to ensure cleaning priority? e.g., touch screens, service point counters, door handles, washroom fixtures, etc.
  • Is it possible to retrofit entrance ways so door handles are eliminated?
  • If furniture/equipment/toys are to be moved, where will they be stored?

Technology Considerations

  • How will keyboards and mice be cleaned (public and staff use)?
  • Can self-checks be set to not require touch screen use? (Bibliotheca ones can – QuickConnect) Is it possible to implement further touch free/self-service options with customers checking out items on their own devices? (AmazonGo – Bibliotheca mobile checkout)?
  • Are there options for touch-free automation to reduce contact with surfaces (ex. automated hand-washing dispensers, automated hand drying, automatic doors, etc.)

Moving Through & Interacting Within the Space

  • Are distance markers required for limiting the number of people allowed in at a time? For queueing?
  • What strategies can be used to manage crowding in elevators, escalators and stairs?
  • Is it possible to separate entrance areas from exit areas in your building?
  • Do emergency evacuation procedures need to be reconsidered? What would that look like?
  • Should plexiglass barriers be installed at service desks? Between public computers?
  • What strategies will we use to discourage use of cash? (cards/phones with tap preferred, fine-free?)
  • When will it be safe to open children’s play areas? Will they have shared toys? Interactives?
  • Should all shelving be done during closed hours?
  • How will staff breaks be handled to allow for social distancing? Are staff areas being adequately cleaned? Who is responsible for the cleaning?
  • Are there adequate hand-washing stations? Is there a need for handwashing stations in the public areas of the library? In staff (circulation) areas? More hand sanitizer stations featured more prominently?
  • Should water fountains be used? Should they be redesigned? Should food and drink continue to be allowed in libraries?
  • What should be measured at the facility? Gate count, material returns, WiFi use?
  • What has to be procured in advance of opening? sneeze shields, foot prints – peel and stick, PPE, stanchions, signage.
  • Is your library continuing curbside pickup during a partial or staged opening for people who choose it or who have compromised immune systems? What precautions need to be in place outside of buildings?
  • Is there adjacent outdoor space that can be used to increase seating capacity? Can the building’s WiFi be extended into that space?


  • Is there signage and communication asking customers to stay home if feeling unwell/displaying any symptoms?
  • What wayfinding methods should be used to communicate new guidelines and limits to visitors and staff (signage, floor decals, PA announcements stanchions, etc.)?
  • Are drawings needed to communicate what furniture is to be moved, routing of the public, stanchions?
  • Is staff training required related to the physical changes to the branch?
  • How are the limitations of the branch (occupant load) documented and communicated?