FVRL’s COVID-19 Response and Frequently Asked Questions

After three months of closure, we’re pleased that the Governor recently provided guidance for libraries to start curbside distributions of hold materials in Phase 2 of the state’s “Safe Start” program.

We are working to ensure that our staff is trained and safety protocols are in place before we start. Once we have our libraries ready and staff back in place, our first priority will be to get those items you’ve been patiently waiting for into your hands. We will notify you when we can fill your requests with instructions on how to proceed.

The need to quarantine items before checking them in and transferring them between locations means that there will be a bit of wait at first. We sincerely appreciate your patience.

FAQs about the Library’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. Like other public institutions in the community, our top priority is keeping our staff and the public safe, and preventing community spread of COVID-19. In order to prevent unnecessary exposure, we need to take these necessary steps to keep the virus from spreading.

Can I pick up my holds?

Yes, curbside pickup of books and other library materials is now available Monday through Saturday by appointment at any FVRLibraries location. Visit https://www.fvrl.org/curbside for more information.

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

FVRL is waiting for the Governor’s Office to issue industry-specific guidelines (much like they did for curbside service) for libraries to be able to reopen to public use. We anticipate being able to reopen shortly after receiving the guidelines and will do our best to reestablish services quickly. In order to provide adequate protection to our staff and the public, it is likely library access will be restored in gradual stages to manage cleaning and exposure concerns.

What will Phase 3 look like in libraries?

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. Much like restaurants and other businesses, we need to maintain strict standards in cleaning, use, and staffing to prevent our buildings from becoming a source for spreading the virus.

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?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that items with hard surfaces such as library materials should sit for 48 hours to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus. FVRL is quarantining all library materials for 96 hours prior to check-in and release. Allowing open access to books for browsing creates a need to quarantine the library after each use. Prolonged time spent indoors also increases the concentration of the virus and thus also the likelihood of infection. 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.

Why can't the library just clean more often?

The safety of our staff and patrons is our highest priority. Like most organizations and individuals, FVRL has a limited supply of cleaning products and personal protective equipment for our employees. We need to balance the need for cleaning by providing other library services and completing necessary tasks.

What resources are available while the library is closed?

FVRL has a large number of online resources available under "Books, Music, Movies & More" and "Research & Learn Online" for the public to access. We are working on increasing access to eBooks and other content during our closure.

What if my books are overdue?

Due dates for most items have been extended. FVRL will continue to extend due dates and does not charge overdue fees.

Can I return my books?

You can return your books to any library book return.

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. We’ve extended the due dates for all items checked out before the closure.

Is your Wi-Fi available?

Yes, Wi-Fi is available 24/7 at all FVRL locations. 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.

Can I still place holds?

Yes. FVRL is limiting patrons to 10 holds as a temporary measure to be sure that we can meet the demand for curbside service. The hold limit does not count against what you have checked out or apply to your eBook holds.

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.