FVRL’s COVID-19 Response and Frequently Asked Questions

A letter from our Director

Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries (FVRL) is committed to exceptional service to our communities, even during a pandemic. Our staff is providing curbside pickup service to our patrons at all of our locations and we are also sending out books by mail. Library staff are available to answer questions or provide assistance by phone six days a week, and online all seven. Even though we are not yet able to open our library buildings to the public, we are busy making sure our communities are being served with online programs and resources, as well as printing services and browsing assistance available through our website. We are also continuing the work of our libraries behind the scenes, including ordering and processing new materials, building new libraries in Ridgefield and Yale, and other aspects of maintaining our operations.

As much as libraries are a service business, we are also a place where people gather. Once we are able to welcome the public into our buildings again, we will face challenges in maintaining appropriate social distance, providing adequate ventilation to reduce the spread of airborne particulates, tracking the number of people allowed in the library at a given time, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, enforcing mask compliance and potentially notifying anyone who has used the building should anyone (either staff or public) become ill.

We are focusing our efforts on serving the public as much as we can at this time, and are utilizing staff at about 78% of our full capacity due to the need to keep them separated to stay safe. We enacted a hiring freeze at the start of the closure and are currently 12% below our 2020 budget on year-to-date expenditures. While we are spending more on cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment for the public and staff, and materials to build partitions, we are saving on overhead expenses created by shorter hours of operation.

According to the Safe Start Washington plan, libraries and museums will be granted the opportunity to open in Phase 3 based on guidelines for those services. We are hopeful that the state will issue Phase 3 guidance for libraries in the near future. FVRL is planning a graduated approach to the restoration of services once reopening is allowed. We appreciate the care with which the state has approached this process as we believe they have everyone's health and safety in mind. Currently, only Skamania County is in Phase 3 in our service area and we anticipate reopening there as soon as we are allowed

We greatly value the taxpayer's support of the library and our services, and can assure you that our staff is working hard to do what we can at this time. We are continuing to look for new ways to serve our communities within the current restrictions and will open our buildings as soon as we are able to do so. In the meantime, check out our FAQs for more information on the services we offer now. Thank you for your patience and support.

-Amelia Shelley, Executive Director
September 8, 2020

Questions about FVRL’s coronavirus response

Why aren't our libraries open to the public?

During Phase 2 of Washington’s “Safe Start”, public libraries are only allowed to offer curbside services outside of our buildings. 

What is the library doing to maintain safety?

We've created safety procedures to ensure that we're keeping you, our staff, and our facilities and materials safe.

My county is in Phase 3. When can I expect the library to open?

FVRL is waiting for the Governor’s Office to issue Phase 3 industry-specific guidelines for libraries to be able to reopen to public use (much like they did for curbside service). We anticipate being able to reopen shortly after receiving the guidelines and will do our best to reestablish services quickly.

We anticipate that our services will be extremely limited while we are in Phase 3 including how long you can stay, how many people can be in the library at the same time, and which services may be available. It is also likely that library access will be restored in gradual stages to manage cleaning and exposure concerns.

Why can't I use a computer?

We recognize that access to the internet is a critical library service. For those with their own device, the internet is accessible through our public Wi-Fi in most of our libraries’ parking lots. Computer access within our libraries cannot be provided until Phase 3 of Washington’s “Safe Start.” In the meantime, we are working on social distancing plans for the eventual reopening of our buildings to the public in a safe manner.

Is there a risk that library materials carry the virus?

FVRL is quarantining all library materials for 96 hours prior to release. Books that are visibly dirty will receive additional surface cleaning. All staff handling returned materials are following strict protocols for personal hygiene and protective equipment to avoid the spread of germs and keep us all safe.

What digital resources are available while the library is closed?

See What to do while you're staying at home, or take a look at the large number of online resources available under "Books, Music, Movies & More" and "Research & Learn Online." We are working on increasing access to eBooks and other content during our closure.

I’m in quarantine or isolation. Will I be billed for the materials if I don't return them now?

If you can’t return them right now, it’s okay. FVRL doesn't charge overdue fees, and even if your items are billed as "lost," the bill will be canceled when the items are returned in good shape.

Is your Wi-Fi available?

Yes, Wi-Fi is available 24/7 at all FVRL locations (try the parking lot or other locations around the buildings). For a full list of local Wi-Fi locations, see the Washington Wi-Fi map.

Can I get help with a question or using my e-device?

Yes, our library staff are available to assist you with questions about library resources or to help you access our downloadable content.

Is the Library Board still meeting?

Yes, public meetings are still under the Governor’s order 20-05 and 20-28 to be held remotely. Information about Library Trustee meetings is available on the Board of Trustees page. Public comments will be accepted in writing at trustees@fvrl.org.