The Bitterroot Public Library has had to make major adjustments to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 threat. This week, the building closed for a few days because of contact tracing from an exposure, and that led to more cleaning of the facility before it re-opened Thursday, November 12.

Earlier this year, the Montana restrictions on inside occupancy led the library to close their popular downstairs meeting room, since the number of people in that room reduced the number of patrons allowed upstairs in the main library. As other libraries have done, the Hamilton library began to encourage phone assistance and curbside pickup. Also, masks became required. And there is 6-foot distancing for all inside the building.

At the beginning of November, the Library Board of Trustees continued some established COVID-19 rules and added others as the coronavirus cases surged throughout the state and in the Bitterroot Valley. In a website article, the new operation details were listed. Currently, the library will be open for limited browsing (30 minutes or less) from Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then, at 3 p.m., only "Front Door" pick-up service is allowed and phone assistance is available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. By the way, pickup service is allowed between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. by request. The building is closed on Sundays.

The library has a "self-checkout" station in the library, but you need to bring your library card to use it. The library's computers are popular, but there is now a 30 minute time limit per day for each person (first come, first served) and staff assistance is limited. Computers will be cleaned after each use.

Sadly, the "in-person" library programs are suspended until further notice. Staff will be cleaning the frequently used areas every hour. Items returned to the library will be quarantined for 24 hours before further processing.

The Bitterroot Public Library Board of Trustees will continue to work with Ravalli County Public Health on a weekly basis and special trustee meetings will discuss any further operational changes. The Bitterroot Public Library Facebook page has more information and their phone number is (406) 363-1670.

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