Six weeks ago I was recalled back to a different library to start providing grab and go services. This site had already been operating for about a week and I was horrified at the lack of safety procedures in place from the PES. Here, patrons were getting 10+ reminders from multiple staff and security to wear their masks. Sometimes we would be ignored, other times patrons would momentarily pull it up/put it on and then remove it once the staff member walks away. I asked the supervisor at this site at what point will patrons be asked to leave and he expressed that the non-compliance I am experiencing is not an incident report and he’s not asking folks to leave.  I have heard that guards and staff at other libraries were empowered to eject patrons after 3 reminders. That should have been a policy in place before libraries were open to the public- library administration failed to protect its workers from the start.

The supervisor at this site was making decisions to allow patrons to stay past their two hour time allotment, we had some individuals be in the library for 3-4 hours at a time, daily. If you ask me, nothing about that is ‘grab and go’. It didn’t help having a training packet that seemed like it was made by someone who had never worked directly with the public. There is no successful way to stand 6 feet behind a patron with low tech literacy and help them on the scanner. We are pressured to get in close proximity, touch patron keyboards, and provide the same level of service as before. There is no boundary setting when the supervisor would model the same loose behavior- over helping on computers- and without his face shield on. Last week we finally had the PES make a policy that he wouldn’t allow patrons to continue eating at the computers, but that came at the expense of capacity. Supervisors now have the autonomy to increase maximum capacity and some wasted no time in allowing more patrons into the building. All of this is allowed but yet we still cannot bring back additional staff to help with the increased workload or crowd control.

Morale is at an all-time low, in my opinion worse than during the staffing strategy days. Again, there is no transparency and no accountability from administration or HR. I am ashamed at the county for gambling with the lives of its most vulnerable and high risk patrons and for the equally vulnerable and high risk staff members and their families. We should not be open for in-person services. The safety policies are only in place to give the illusion that libraries are safe but these policies lack spines and go largely unfollowed. The message is loud and clear on the front lines- library workers are disposable and our jobs are not protected.