Ventura County Library welcomes customers back into buildings

E.P. Foster Library is slowly opening.

Since April 7, 2021, the Ventura County Library System libraries, including libraries in the cities of Ojai, Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Fillmore, have welcomed the public back for limited indoor services including browsing and checkout of collections and computer use. Customers have up to 50 minutes per day to conduct activities in the library. Since summer of 2020, customers have also been able to place holds for library materials online and pick them up when ready just outside the front doors of the libraries. Throughout the pandemic, the library system has worked closely with public health officials and within state guidelines for libraries to provide safe library services and programs.

The safety of customers and staff remain the first priority and customers may notice enhanced safety measures when they come back to the library, such as plexiglass barriers at service desks, availability of hand sanitizer, and socially distanced computer workstations. The library has covered additional costs throughout the pandemic associated with paying janitorial crews for more often and extra deep cleaning measures and upgraded filters on HVAC systems. The library continues to provide numerous online programs and resources, but also has plans to implement some in-person programs again as early as this summer. When the state reopens, public seating and tables will be made available again for study and reading, and time limits for library use per day eliminated.

At the Ventura County Library System, 42% of library employees were redeployed over the course of the pandemic to serve as Disaster Services Workers for other county agencies, performing tasks such as delivering meals to seniors, contact tracing and working at vaccination clinics. During the pandemic, several customer service modifications were made, some of which the library is planning to continue after the pandemic because they were so successful, such as offering live online tutoring for students in both English and Spanish, chat reference services, virtual STEAM and Storytime programs, and enhanced ebook collections.

For a seven-month period in the past year, over 2,000 students received live tutoring online through the library. Over 25,000 people received virtual library cards online to access ebooks and databases, including many students accessing these resources for schoolwork. And from July 2020 to April 2021 an average of 15,600 items were checked out from the libraries per month. Ebook usage increased 75% over the past year, and eaudiobook usage increased 25%. From March 2020 to April 2021, staff produced 621 live Storytime programs on Facebook which had 70,044 unique views.

You can come inside and browse materials, checkout books, and use a computer.  If you place a hold on an item online, you can pick it up at the library when it is ready. The only things you can’t do at this time is be in the library more than 50 minutes per day, attend in-person library programs, or sit inside the library to study or read.  Those things will start again after June 15.

Ventura region branches:

Avenue Library, 606 North Ventura Ave.

E.P. Foster Library, 651 East Main St.

Hill Road Library, 1070 S. Hill Road

Saticoy Library, 1292 Los Angeles Ave.

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