The Bitterroot Public Library will cancel all programs, events, and use of the meeting room effective Monday, March 16, at 9:30 a.m. until at least March 31. The regular public meeting of the library board on Wednesday, March 18, at 4 p.m. will be conducted by conference call. Call the library at 406-363-1670 if you would like to participate in the conference call.
The North Valley Public Library had no programs, events, or use of meeting room in March due to renovation.
Additionally, public seating will not be available at Bitterroot Public Library and North Valley Public Library effective Monday, March 16th. This is to promote social distancing and limit public gathering and the possible spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which as of Saturday has four confirmed cases in Montana. Public computers will not be available for regular use. Toys for children and other difficult to sanitize items will also not be available. The library’s wireless internet network will continue to operate and patrons are encouraged to access it from their vehicles.
Library users can still visit the library to return or check out materials during this time. Library users will be limited to quick browsing of items on the shelves or picking up items on hold. Material return boxes are located outside the library and patrons are encouraged to use them for all items, including DVDs and audiobooks.
Additional limitations on services or materials and reduced hours of operation are also possible. All of the restrictions will be in effect until at least March 31.
“Several libraries in Montana have cancelled programs and events, as well as several groups locally, and we believe following their lead is an unfortunate but necessary precaution to take during this health crisis,” said Mark Wetherington, Bitterroot Library director. “On average over 225 people per day visit the library and doing what we can to cut down on how long people linger and come into contact with others is in the best interest of the health and safety of our community. We realize this will be a profound inconvenience for library users and our community, but we would rather be safe than sorry.”
Denise Ard, North Valley Public Library director stated, “This fast moving, easily catchable virus could put a major strain on our local health care services so although inconvenient to our patrons, Mark and our boards believe preventative measures need to be taken to ensure proper social distancing to lessen the impact on the Bitterroot Valley.”
Stacie Rennaker at the Darby Community Public Library noted that they intend to implement identical policies with respect to public computers and planned programs. Unique procedures may be implemented within the library proper and the foyer. They will be posted at the library. These revised procedures are intended to be in effect Monday, March 16 at 9 a.m. and be effective until March 31.
The libraries are actively monitoring updates from the Missoula City-County Health Department and the Ravalli County Health Department, the Montana State Library, and the Centers for Disease Control and will continue doing their part to keep the community informed and maintain a safe facility.
The libraries are unable to comprehensively sanitize every single item (books, movies, etc.) that is checked out. Patrons are advised to wash their hands after handling materials and avoid touching their faces.
For the most current information about Bitterroot Public Library operations in Hamilton, visit bitterrootpubliclibrary.org or call 406-363-1670.
For the most current information about North Valley Public Library in Stevensville, visit the North Valley Library Facebook page, or visit northvalleylibrary.org, or call 406-777-5061.