West Bloomfield resident Ben Hirsch, left, and Norma Moreno, of Troy, look at a book at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. During phase two of what Library Director Clara Bohrer expects to be a four-phase process, patrons can go inside and self-check-out materials.

West Bloomfield resident Ben Hirsch, left, and Norma Moreno, of Troy, look at a book at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. During phase two of what Library Director Clara Bohrer expects to be a four-phase process, patrons can go inside and self-check-out materials.

Photo by Deb Jacques


West Bloomfield Township Public Library enters another phase of services

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 6, 2020

 Patrons are pictured at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. Library Director Clara Bohrer said, “We’ve asked everybody to keep their visits to about 45 minutes.”

Patrons are pictured at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. Library Director Clara Bohrer said, “We’ve asked everybody to keep their visits to about 45 minutes.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

 West Bloomfield resident Susan Rose checks out a book on hold at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. Patrons are required to wear masks inside the library.

West Bloomfield resident Susan Rose checks out a book on hold at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library. Patrons are required to wear masks inside the library.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Those who enjoy browsing inside their local library have reason to cheer: The West Bloomfield Township Public Library opened to the public July 15.

The library is now in phase two of what Library Director Clara Bohrer expects to be a four-phase process. Both the Main Library and the Westacres Branch are open to the public.

After closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic March 14, the library began resuming some services when phase one began June 8.

During that phase, patrons were not allowed inside the library, but they could place holds and request materials via the library’s online catalog at westbloomfieldlibrary.org.

Phase one also included an exterior book drop and a drive-up window at the Main Library to pick up materials.

In addition to those services still being available, the public can now go inside the library to check out materials.

Bohrer referred to it as the “grab-and-go” phase. In the current phase, patrons can go inside, find books, pick up holds, renew library cards or get a new one, and sel- check-out prior to leaving the facility.

Face masks are required. “We’ve asked everybody to keep their visits to about 45 minutes,” Bohrer said.

“Everyone has just been wonderful,” she said. “We have had no problems with people coming in already having their face masks with them. So everyone’s very cooperative and is just happy to step foot in the library, even for a little bit.”

Access to the inside of the library hasn’t negated one of the main highlights of phase one.

“Phase-one people discovered our digital services,” Bohrer said. “Even after we started curbside service, our digital e-books and everything continue to circulate at all-time highs because of the convenience. They can get their e-books and streaming video right from home. … If there’s one good thing from the (library) perspective about all of this, people discovered that we have quite a robust collection of digital material.”

The ability to pick up materials from the drive-up window has also gone over well.

“We felt it went really well and that people were pleased with it, pleased with the convenience of it,” Bohrer said. “They would call in, tell us what they wanted, and it would be ready for them when they came. So I think that’s real convenient.”

The popularity of the library has helped make Main Library Branch Manager Jeff Crocker’s job a more rewarding one.

“We’re hearing from people that they miss the library and the librarians,” Crocker said. “We’ve been happy to open the building so people can come in and browse the collection or get help selecting new titles and authors. That’s been most of what we’ve been doing since we reopened is helping people find things.”

As of now, only 24% of normal capacity is permitted in the building at any one time, which amounts to 42 people at the branch library and 156 at the main building, according to Bohrer.

“We watch for that,” Bohrer said.

“In the old days, you’d come in on an evening or weekend, it was packed,” she said. “And so it’s very few now.”

Bohrer referred to the progression the library has gone through as “baby steps.”

“I think for us, it’s every time we add something, OK, it’s one step a little closer to all the services we used to offer,” she said. “It’s hard to know we can offer so much, but we’re limited by all the parameters and everything that you have to do because of the virus.”

In phase three, there may be appointments to use computers, along with access to the use of copy machines.

“Phase three will add some new services but will be probably by appointment,” Bohrer said.

Bohrer doesn’t expect phase three to begin “for a while.”

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is still recommending when you’re using the public library, whenever possible, to use curbside services and digital services, rather than coming into the facilities,” she said.

Despite the caution that has been exercised about entering the building, people have continued to utilize their local library.

“It’s not unusual that overnight, we will get between 400 and 500 requests for materials, that when we come in, in the morning, we scramble to get together and have ready at the drive-up or parking lot pick-up,” Bohrer said. “And a lot of that is new books, DVDs and books on CD. We get a lot of holds, too, now. … It’s very satisfying that we’re providing a service that the community uses and enjoys.”

As for what she wants the public to be most aware of, Bohrer said, “Be patient.”

“We still have to quarantine materials,” she said. “Now we’re quarantining for 72 hours. … For some materials that they’re testing, like the glossy magazines, we’ll have to move for those materials, 96 hours. We’re very conscious of the materials, that they’re properly quarantined and cleaned before they go back out to the public.”

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