To handle increasing safety risks for staff and opposition from some patrons about wearing masks, Timberland Regional Library (TRL) locations may temporarily switch to takeout services only.
Library staff are experiencing an increase in volatile patron incidents and overall hostility from some patrons over the requirement to wear masks in TRL buildings, said Timberland Regional Library Deputy Director Kendra Jones.
TRL requires all staff and patrons to wear a mask inside any TRL building regardless of vaccination status.
Patron hostility toward the mask requirement coupled with an increase in incidents related to drug use and mental health has caused staff and patron safety to become a pressing concern, she said.
“This is a matter of safety for staff, but also for our patrons,” Jones said. “While most incidents can be resolved relatively safely, hostile incidents always have the potential for violence.”
TRL district managers will decide, together with library managers, on a case-by-case basis whether a location will revert to offering only takeout services, Jones said.
Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater Timberland Libraries are some of the high-incident locations that will have the option to move to takeout several days a month as needed.
“In most cases, the reversion to takeout will be temporary and will take place for short periods of time throughout the next few months,” Jones said.
Whenever possible, the decision to move to takeout only services will be made in advance to allow time to notify patrons of the change, but there may be instances where the decision is made on short notice, even at times when patrons already are in the building, Jones said.
TRL administrative staff follow a disruptive patron policy that was approved by the Timberland Regional Library Board of Trustees. The policy can be found on TRL.org.
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