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Moving into the Yellow (“Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”)

May 30, 2020

Beginning June 5th, the county of Lehigh will be moving into the yellow phase as dictated by Governor Wolf. Things will certainly feel much different for us at Lehigh Carbon Community College as we make the slow transition of opening the doors of our physical library and offering our services hands-on to our patrons. As necessitated, we will need to proceed with caution. Our library will remain closed to students, staff, faculty, administration, and the public for the time being, with only librarians and library staff reporting to the physical building. Curbside service will be provided to our patrons three days a week; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between the hours of 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Patrons will need to give us twenty-four hours notice of requesting curbside service, or else our circulation staff need not report to the library that day.

While I am not circulation staff, I am proceeding forward by going in one day a week starting Tuesday, June 9th, to check on interlibrary loans. Already several libraries through OCLC and Access PA have shipped back items borrowed from us, so I am anxious to see if they have successfully made the transit. One of our librarians who lives close to the campus has been going into the library a few times a week even while we are in the red phase to check the mail and our book drop. (As can be expected, we are getting a lot of returned rentals meant for the campus store. Has anyone else had that issue?) He has confirmed for me that several interlibrary loans have been shipped to us.

Our president has been holding virtual “town hall” meetings to discuss protocol and procedures as we move into the yellow phase. Working remotely will still be encouraged where feasible. While there has been speculation that our county would be moving into the green within three weeks, I believe this is jumping the gun. From what I understand, this speculation has been based on the counties which moved into the yellow back on May 8th, and who are now moving into the green come June 5th. However, it is important to note that these are more rural counties, such as Bradford, where there were cases of COVID-19 not even in the triple digits reported. I believe it has been easier for these counties to proceed with moving forward into the green phase. Lehigh County needs to take it slower, in my opinion. As of Saturday, May 30, Lehigh County has 3,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it the sixth-highest number of infection by county within Pennsylvania. Our neighboring county, Northampton, ranks seventh with 2,866 confirmed cases. The other county which our community college supports, Carbon, moved into the yellow phase last week and has only 227 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Guidelines have been sent out to us regarding what to expect once we return onto campus. We cannot make impromptu stops; we need to report a schedule to our supervisors and stick to it so there is a thorough record of who is on campus in case an incident of COVID-19 is confirmed among one of us. We will most likely be responsible for providing our own masks, although there will be places on campus where we can get one should we need it. Other disinfecting materials, such as sprays, wipes, and hand sanitizer, will be provided by the college. I will need to develop some kind of protocol for handling interlibrary loans, such as sanitizing and quarantining materials before returning them.

I am curious to hear what other colleges moving into the yellow phase next week will be doing, especially those counties with a high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, such as Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware counties. Are you providing curbside services? When will you be opening your doors to your students? What about the public? How are you handling your interlibrary loans? Are you nervous about being back on campus?

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