To see the Video from Darryl Eschete, Library Director, CLICK HERE.

Here is the text of his announcement:

April 29, 2020

Hello, West Des Moines Public Library Users!

I hope you’re all staying safe as we keep on in these strange and frustrating times.

After Monday’s press conference, it looks like the Governor and her advisors are keeping public libraries in our region closed until at least Friday, May 15th. On the one hand, we hate being closed any longer; on the other hand, we’re glad to play a role in keeping the community safe. The Library is a place where people share spaces, equipment, and surfaces that could possibly spread COVID-19.

As the number of daily cases increase, we plan to continue as we have been during the closure, with online programming and virtual outreach projects, including Zoom-based reading meetups/book clubs (check our Facebook page for more information) and I’d like to give kudos to staff for coming up with ideas like that to make sure we stay on the collective mind of the public we appreciate and miss so much. Response to what we’re doing online and to our new streaming services, Hoopla and Kanopy, is fantastic, and we appreciate it.

When the situation begins to improve, our plan is to institute some limited “distance-oriented” services. We want to get curbside service going again, a system whereby people place holds, wait a few hours and then call to have them brought out to them on the same day, as we were doing just after we had to close our doors in mid-March.

Then, looking ahead to brighter days, the library administration and I are working on our first-stage procedural guide for when we start actually allowing people into the building. I can tell you now that when we reopen, things are definitely going to look different for a while. Much depends on what health officials say about the larger pandemic between then and now, of course, but as it stands our “day one” plan for open doors looks something like this:

  • Staff dealing with the public will be wearing cloth masks, as per the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control;
  • We’ll allow a limited number of people in the building at a given time, with those coming in encouraged not to linger (a limit of perhaps 60 minutes) and maintain their social distance; we will maintain a concierge desk at the front doors to “count in” the building’s users as they come in and “count them out” again as they leave;
  • There will be plexiglass shields at the service desks;
  • There will be tape lines on the floors in front of desks behind which the public will be encouraged to wait in order to maintain social distance;
  • We’ll mark some computers out of service to keep users a safe distance apart, and computer sessions will be shortened to allow more people to use them, with sanitizing of keyboard, mice and other hardware between uses;
  • There will be cleaning crews moving through the building during open hours, keeping switches, crash bars and work surfaces clean;
  • There will be no story times or in-building programs;
  • Meeting rooms will be unavailable and we’ll limit the number of people in the study rooms to maintain social distancing;
  • We’ll offer special dedicated morning hours once or twice a week for vulnerable populations to come and do their library business with less anxiety;
  • We’ll operate with shortened hours to allow our available staff to offer these more people-intensive services.

At each stage of the reopening, we will publicize what is going on and, as we finalize the plan for opening the doors, we will publish that date in advance. Our goal is to minimize troublesome surprises for the public—and ourselves—as we move into summer. On that note, our Summer Reading Program will be mostly online this year, with no in-building programs or story times until much later in the summer, if the situation allows.

We know that none of this is ideal, and I promise you that staff looks forward to being more available and interactive with our patrons, but we care enough about the people of our community to try to keep them as safe as we can.

We are watching the progression of this situation obsessively, and are more than ready to start putting the “public” back in public library as soon as the viral dust clouds start to settle. We miss you.


Thank you.

Darryl Eschete & The Staff of the West Des Moines Public Library