The Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries, which includes the Washougal Community Library, is canceling all public programs for two weeks, starting March 13 and going through at least March 27 in light of risks posed by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The libraries will remain open during regular hours and public use of the libraries’ meeting spaces are not affected at this time. Outreach visits and bookmobile stops are part of the canceled events.
In a press release, FVRL officials stated that the closures follow the Washington State Health Department’s guidelines for mass gatherings.
“While many library services such as helping patrons find and check out materials or giving them access to computers and wi-fi can be maintained, our programs – loved and vital to our community as they are – present unique challenges to maintaining public health,” stated Amelia Shelley, executive director for FVRL, in the press release. “Given current health guidelines calling for ‘social distancing’ of 6 feet or more in public gatherings, we came to the tough decision to cancel programs for the time being to ensure that the library is not bringing people together unnecessarily.”
The cancelations impact libraries throughout Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties and in the city of Woodland.
“We know this is a loss to our local communities, but as a public institution, we also have a duty to help contain the virus and take precautions to protect patrons and staff from exposure,” Shelley stated.
“Over the next two weeks, the district will consider when to restore programs, outreach, and bookmobile services, or taking additional steps depending on the situation with the state’s COVID-19 outbreak,” FVRL staff stated in the press release.
FVRL staff are taking other steps to help reduce spread of the new virus, which has proven deadly to older people and those with underlying health conditions. The press release states that library staff are cleaning counters, keyboards and entryways frequently, have made hand sanitizer available to the public whenever possible, removed hard-to-clean items such as toys, and is encouraging patrons to practice social distancing of least 6 feet.
FVRL also has moved the Board of Trustees March 16 meeting to the district’s operations center at 1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver and will only allow written comments.
For more information about the library’s response to COVID-19 and updated information during the next few weeks, visit: fvrl.org/coronavirus-response.