FAQ about Reopening

updated 11/24/2020 


Thank you for your patience as Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library staff members have been working to reinvent our service and create a thoughtful, responsible plan for a phased reopening.    With more than 100,000 customer visits per year, the library is being cautious with reopening plans.

We know you have lots of questions about what to expect during the phased reopening.  We have answers below.  Thank you for your continued patience as we find ways to provide service as safely as possible.


When will the library reopen?

The library is opening in phases to make sure we can provide service safely.   We are currently in Phase 3 - 4 which contains a number of services including curbside service and  limited access to computers and wifi by appointment only.   You can place requests for items by phone or online using your library account in the online catalog.   You will be notified when the items are available for you to pick up.  

Full reopening will be based on evolving public health directives. 


Borrowing and Returning Materials:


When can I request new items and how long will it take?

New requests for materials began on June 8th.  So far we are able to fill requests in a similar timeline as before.  There may be some delays as we isolate returned materials for 5 days out of an abundance of caution.   This exceeds the CDC guidelines which classify virus transmission on materials as low risk.


Can I come into the library to pick up my materials?

Not at this time.  You are welcome to contact the library during our open hours and staff will assist in selecting materials for checkout.  The items will be pulled for curbside pick up.  Staff are also happy to assist you in how to place holds online using the library catalog.


Will you still do curbside even when the library reopens?

In a perfect world with a different building setup and enough staff, we would love to continue to provide this service.  Sadly, it is not sustainable for us as we reopen our interior services fully.   If, in accordance to evolving public health directives we must reverse phases in our reopening plan, we will re-evaluate the need, and determine if, where, and for how long this service would resume


Where do I return materials?

Please only use the outside book drop box along the alley.  We can't effectively quarantine materials from our desk areas.  Using the outside drop boxes allows us to safely isolate all returned materials for 5 days before making them available for checkout.  But don't worry - you will not accumulate any fines and can continue to make new requests and checkouts during that time.


Can I request materials using MEL and interlibrary loan?

MELCAT borrowing and lending is available.  Some libraries may still have services suspended, so we may not be able to get all items in the MEL catalog.  Many libraries around the state are still not open and don't have staff in their buildings to search for requested materials.


What happened to my interlibrary loan request I had before COVID-19?

All previous requests that were in MELCAT and unfulfilled have been canceled.  You will need to re-request any items you would still like through MEL.


Are you accepting book donations?

We cannot receive donated materials at this time.  We do not have room to quarantine the materials nor the space to house them.


Where can I donate my materials?

You can donate materials at a local Better World Books dropbox:

Saint Joseph Banking Center  --  3175 Cleveland Ave.,  Saint Joseph, MI  49085

Martin's #23--Cleveland Ave--Stevensville:  5637 Cleveland Ave., Stevensville, MI 49127


Here are the material guidelines for what can be donated.



Meeting Rooms

When will my group be able to use your meeting rooms?  

As long as the CDC and the Berrien County Health Department guidelines require or recommend limiting the size of gatherings, we will not be taking meeting room reservations.  Additionally, while we are required to limit the overall number of people in the building we cannot accommodate meetings within the library.


Health and Safety

Is it safe to visit the library?

We are exceeding all the precautions recommended by the CDC and the Berrien County Health Department to mitigate risks in the library for staff and customers.  This includes wearing masks, social distancing, continuous disinfecting, and limiting the number of people in our building.   Only you can decide if any visit outside your home is safe.  We have greatly expanded digital access to materials and also are offering pickup service to help deliver library materials and services to you as safely as possible. 


What should I know before visiting the library?

Please place all returning materials in the outdoor dropbox along the alley east of the library before you come in.   

Patrons over age 5 are required to wear a facial covering in the library at all times.

We ask that you limit your visit to one hour, maximum.

No more than 100 people are allowed in the building at one time (including staff).

No food or beverages are permitted unless medically necessary.

Patrons must practice social distancing at all times.  Remain 6 feet away from others, and follow guidelines in the book stacks throughout the building.


Do I need to wear a mask?

Per the State of Michigan directives, all library staff are required to wear masks at work.   We are happy to oblige with this requirement as there are more instances documented that indicate that wearing a mask is an important tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Currently, patrons age 5 and up will also need to wear a mask or face covering at all times while in the library.  This will keep everyone as safe as possible.  If you are uncomfortable wearing a face covering for any reason, we will be happy to help you by phone or email. 


Can I get COVID-19 from touching library materials?

Scientific studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that people contract COVID-19 from touching things.  As a precaution, wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face.


Do you clean all returned materials? 

Scientific studies indicate that the virus usually becomes inactive on materials within 5 days.  We quarantine all returned materials for more than 5 days in an excess of caution before making them available for checkout.  The virus would be inactive after this amount of time, so we do not need to clean the materials.  Customers should not clean materials as many products are harmful to library materials. 


Will you still have play areas?

To comply with the CDC and Berrien County Health Department guidelines, we have removed all high touch objects in our children's areas.  We are asking patrons not to linger in the library, and to limit their visit to one hour, maximum.