A DAY after the state government allowed libraries in the state to reopen, ‘Vaachan Prerna Din’ events, organised every year to inspire reading habits, were organised by several government libraries to commemorate the birth anniversary of former President of India and scientist Dr APJ Abdul Kalam — but without an audience.
The state Directorate of Libraries also released Thursday the standard operating protocols (SOPs) detailing precautions to be followed for the reopening. Popular private libraries in Mumbai, however, said they were preparing to reopen from October 19 onwards.
On Thursday, state Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant visited the State Central Library in Fort area to oversee its reopening and attend a book exhibition organised at the venue.
“Our library has opened from today for visitors, and we will operate at 50 per cent capacity. On an average day, we used to get 350 visitors, including students,” librarian Shashikant Kakad told The Indian Express.
As per the SOPs issued by the Directorate of Libraries, readers will be urged to return or borrow books once in five days. Books received from readers will be kept for two days in a “book isolation box” before putting it in the borrowing section.
Libraries have been also instructed to provide email and WhatsApp facilities for book requests. If Covid-19 cases rise after reopening of any library, the management will have to inform the local administration and the district library officer, following which the library will be closed down for some time.
Libraries have been mandated to maintain 1-metre distance between staffers as well as visitors, apart from providing sanitisers, soap, and water facilities on its premises. Staffers will be regularly checked using thermal scanners, infrared thermometer, and oximeter, whereas a separate book will be maintained with details of all visitors.
Wearing masks will be compulsory for all, and regularly touched surfaces such as tables, chairs, lift buttons, among others will have to be sanitised three times a day.
There are nearly 12,150 government-recognised libraries and 43 government libraries in Maharashtra.
Private libraries, including the Asiatic Society Library and David Sassoon Library, are yet to open its doors for members. The management committee of the Asiatic Society is set to meet virtually on Friday to decide on the reopening, said president Vispi Balaporia. “We don’t want to rush into it. Sanitisation and cleanliness are our main concern, and we feel it is best to start gradually. Our staff will also face difficulty in travelling, while the danger posed by Covid-19 is still present,” Balaporia added.
David Sassoon Library is preparing to invite its members from Monday, said president Hemant Bhalekar. “We have around 2,500 members and are planning on ways to accommodate visitors in accordance with the guidelines provided by the government. Our members are usually students and elderly persons. We are thinking of spacing out visitors by making use of garden and gallery spaces.
However, the areas need to be cleaned, and our staffers come from far off areas.”
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