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Public Library prepares to resume services, gradually

Ferndale Public Library (June 28, 2018). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — While Whatcom County Library System staff have remained busy, library buildings, including the Ferndale Public Library, have been closed since March 16th. This included extending holds and due dates. Loaned material due during the closure received extended due dates and were to be held until the libraries reopened.

Late fees are no longer imposed due to a policy change that went into effect in January.

WCLS officials recently announced they will be implementing a gradual return to service as Whatcom County has been approved for Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start plan.

The initial step, on Monday, June 8th, will have staff returning to work locations and branch location book returns will be reopened. But library buildings and remote book returns will remain closed to the public.

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All returned library materials will be quarantined for 72 hours before returning to circulation.Whatcom County Library System (June 2020)

Curbside pickups for items on hold will be scheduled once staff has caught up with processing book returns. WCLS officials say they expect to be managing the return of 111,630 books and other library materials countywide. There are currently 3,886 items on hold.

Restoration of additional services will be announced when Whatcom County is approved to enter Phase 3. Full library services are expected after the county is in Phase 4. Until then, library programming will continue online.

For the more than 2 months the buildings have been closed, WCLS’s digital services still provided library cardholders access to online digital content and other services, including Mango LanguagesKanopy streaming video and RB Digital magazines.

Compared to the same period last year, new users of eBooks and eAudiobooks jumped 131% and checkouts increased 43%. In response, WCLS increased spending on digital collections by 134% for the months of March, April and May. Other digital services also saw tremendous growth. Use of NewsBank, a paywall-free newspaper archive, increased 534% as people referred to its comprehensive, relevant news coverage., a vast library of instructional videos, saw a 439% increase in use, as people used it to advance their computer skills, get help with resume writing, learn to play the ukulele, be a better photographer, and more. Use of Kanopy, our streaming video service, also increased (315%), as did RBDigital eMagazine access (42%), Mango Languages (34%), and other digital services. Our physical libraries may have been closed, but the digital library was very much open.Whatcom County Library System (June 2020)

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