Dowagiac District Library scales back to curbside pickup amid rising Cass County COVID-19 cases

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac District Library has changed its operations this week.

Due to an increase in the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases for Cass County and surrounding regions, the Dowagiac District Library announced on Monday that it will be stepping back to Curbside Pickup only this week, with hours being from noon to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

According to library director Matt Weston, the decision was made based on data collected by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

To access Curbside Pickup, patrons are asked to call the library to request items or go to the library’s website to order online. Staff will call when items are available for pickup. The library is also offering copying and faxing as well as informational services. Curbside services will move to the vestibule of the front entrance in the event of rain (no entry to the main building).

To best serve the community amid the pandemic, the library put together a reopening plan consisting of six stages of library access adhering to Center For Disease Control and DHHS guidelines. The library is currently in Stage 3, Curbside Pickup and Limited Patron Service.

According to the DHHS, the Kalamazoo region that the library falls under is currently under medium-high risk for new COVID-19 cases. Weston says that the library will return to Limited Interior Access (Stage 4) once seven-day averages for new COVID-19 cases move back to Medium Risk.

Stage 4 allows patrons to enter the library but limits them to a specific area in the library. Patrons may have conversations with library staff and access library computers but must wear masks and follow social distance guidelines.

“As the week goes on we’ll re-evaluate,” Weston said. “Changes wouldn’t occur until Monday. It’s hard to determine day to day but week to week we can handle.”

Weston said that the library had been operating at Stage 4 for five straight weeks before stepping back to Stage 3 this week, while at quarter capacity. Due to the ongoing expansion construction on the property, social distancing indoors had been difficult.

“Traffic has been slow,” Weston said. “But last week was steady. It would taper off later in the afternoon. Our problem right now is that we don’t have a way to direct traffic flow due to construction. We have a real bottleneck at the front of our building. If anyone has to check in or out, they’re blocking our entrance and our exit. Social distancing has been very difficult. Due to construction, we can’t direct people in or out with more than one door.”

Weston noted that construction on the expanded wing of the library is progressing smoothly and he expects the expansion to be completed in October.

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