Staff COVID outbreak closes Darien Library

The Darien Library

The Darien Library

The Darien Library

DARIEN — Library officials said the facility will be closed Thursday due to staff members testing positive for COVID-19. The library will be closed through at least March 10.

The library tweeted Thursday morning that it would be closed in order to complete contact tracing and sanitizing.

“The health and safety of our community and patrons is our top priority,” the tweet said.

Director Kiera Parrott said the library has four cases among the staff and said she is meeting with the Darien Department of Health on Thursday for guidance on when it may be safe to reopen.

One staffer tested positive on Tuesday and the library became aware in the late afternoon, Parrott said.

“At that point, we conducted contact tracing and any other staffers who were in close contact with that individual were sent home to quarantine,” she said.

On Wednesday, three additional staff members tested positive which Parrott said was the reason the decision was made to close.

The library reopened in July under COVID-19 restrictions for brief visits and computer access.

“At the library, everyone wears a mask at all times (most staff double-mask) and users are asked to wear disposable gloves when using computers and copiers, etc.,” Parrott wrote in a statement.

She said the library employs a full-time custodian who sanitizes all public and staff spaces throughout the day, and a cleaning crew again sanitizes the building each night.

In addition, the library staff strives to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, including the patrons being helped and colleagues.

“We aim to keep in-person interactions below the ‘cumulative 15-minute’ guideline per the CDC. Since November, patrons have been limited to 30-minute visits per day,” Parrott said.

There is also limited seating in the library, which helps discourage users from staying for longer periods of time, Parrott said. The library also quarantines all returned materials for several days before putting the items back on the shelves. The library also has an updated HVAC system with HEPA filtration, Parrott said.

“Despite all of the above, we do have four cases on our team, which is deeply concerning,” Parrott said.

She said any decision made about reopening and when will be based on the science, the CDC and local health guidelines, and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of staff, patrons, and the community at large.

Parrott said visitors to the library have decreased greatly since pre-pandemic and the shortened time period for browsing means people are not in the library long.

No. There have been very few patrons in the building in general these days.

“Pre-COVID, we would see an average of 1,300 people in the Library every day. Since the time we reopened the building in July 2020, we are averaging below 20 percent of our normal traffic,” she said.

“And, as I mentioned, patrons are limited to 30-minutes per day, and there is almost no seating, so folks are in and out relatively quickly,” she said.

Darien Health Director David Knauf said he is working on the library case. Parrot said an update on when the library would reopen would be coming later Thursday.

The library is always open at Digital Darien. Parrott said remote reference and readers’ advisory is available at 203-655-1234. Virtual programs will continue as scheduled.