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'They Want To See The Books': What's It Like Inside A Reopened Library On The South Coast?

Camarillo Public Library
Camarillo Public Library

Libraries in our region have faced one of the biggest challenges in modifying their service to be able to reopen.

Libraries are based around sharing and books can’t easily be moved or stored outdoors, so COVID-19 has posed specific difficulties for libraries in our region.

As some now reopen, with modifications, how different are they from the version we know and love?

Here at Camarillo Public Library in Ventura County, the staff are ready but so far – visitors are few.

For the past year, they’ve been running a grab and go service – like many other libraries in the region still looking to serve the community – but two weeks ago reopened its doors for a walk in-service.

Mandy Nasr, the Library Director Camarillo Public Library says folks are now coming back once they realized they can.

"Obviously it's been a very challenging year and we've kept up by doing curbside but we are more than just a collection," she told KCLU.

"Since we opened, it's been so nice to see people. When we tell people we are open, when they arrive for their appointments for curbside, they literally get out of their cars and come inside because they want to see the books, they want to see our materials and see other people reading...and have that community feel."

Masks are required in the building, and patrons are spaced out to social distance.

John Thomas the assistant director of administrative service at the City of Camarillo is tasked with overseeing the new safety measures.

Furniture had to be removed, he explained, as well as plexiglass shields installed to protect staff.

"We also made improvements to the HVAC and AC system," he said, and they installed touchless soup and towel dispensers in the restrooms.

The Library has a children’s library to be proud of – a giant pirate ship and storybook style details – but for the moment their kids story time remains virtual.

Santa Barbara Public Library is set to increase access from the start of June – with a limited 25% capacity and patrons invited to spend up to 30 mins at a time.

In Ventura County, the Simi Valley Library was the first to reopen, then Santa Paula, Moorpark, and the Ventura County Library System libraries (all 12 of them). Camarillo was next, and Thousand Oaks was after them.