Benzie  Shores District Library

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Benzie Shores District  Library

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COVID Response FAQ

updated 1/25/2021

In response to COVID-19, Benzie Shores District Library is taking several steps to protect our staff and the general public – in particular the high-risk populations we serve. This page contains the most up-to-date information pertaining to library services.​

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns. We’re listening. You may email us, or call 352-4671.


Q:  Why were you closed?
A:  On Thursday, March 12th, Governor Whitmer released an executive order closing all schools at the close of the school day, Friday March 13th. By Friday morning, warnings were being sent through multiple library communication networks recommending library closure. Libraries, including Benzie Shores, made the difficult decision to close their doors. By Saturday, the Michigan Library Association issued a recommendation to all libraries in the state to close. By Monday, March 15th, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-9, mandating library closures.
The library was closed from March 13 until June 8, 2020, when we began offering curbside service.

Q: Why am I limited to 45 minutes inside the library?
A:  The MDHHS Order requires BSDL to limit capacity to 30%. In order to help limit the number of people in the building at any one time, and to help lessen the chance of any prolonged exposure to COVID-19 by library patrons and staff, we are requiring patrons to limit their library visit to 45 minutes.  

Q: Why can’t I use the tables or quiet study area?
A:  We are following CDC guidelines for disinfecting our spaces. We need to limit the number of surfaces needing to be disinfected and limit the number of people in the building at any one time. We encourage patrons to spend as little time as possible in the building. For these reasons, we are not offering work spaces in the library at this time.

Q: Why can’t children play in the children’s area?  Where are the toys?
A: Because there are so many commonly touched items in our children’s area and children tend to congregate close together, we encourage families to spend time selecting their materials but to leave the library once you have a big stack of library books. To prevent exposure to COVID-19, we are currently storing all toys. Toys in the children’s area have a lot of children touching them and playing with them. For the safety of all the children who visit the branch, we are not currently placing any toys out for patrons to play with while there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Instead, you may want to check out our Circle Time kits for toddlers, or a STEM kit for older children.

Q:  Why aren’t there in-person programs?
A:  We can’t wait to start providing programs again; however, at this time, it’s not yet safe to bring groups of people together. We will resume programming when the MDHHS and the local health department think it is safe to do so.

Q:  Why is there not a dedicated time for at-risk people only?
A:  Because at-risk people are not always easily identifiable by sight, it would be hard to decide who is at-risk and who is not. As such, enforcing a policy like this could lead to discrimination. Instead, we are committed to doing all we can do to make the library a safe environment for our patrons during all operating hours.

Q:  What were you doing while you were closed? Were staff paid or furloughed during this time?  
The Executive Order to keep Michigan residents safe prohibited staff from returning to on-site work to prepare the facilities for public visits. Salaried staff worked from home. Part-time staff were paid for their regularly scheduled hours. Subs and evening staff were let go.

Q:  Do patrons have to wear masks in the library?  
For the safety of our entire community, we are requiring all people using the library to wear a mask. If you forgot your mask, don’t worry, we will give you one. We have other accommodations available for those unable to wear a mask.

Q:  Is the library accepting book donations?  
A:  BSDL no longer hosts an annual book sale and was not accepting donations prior to COVID. Donations can be taken to Blue Vase Book Exchange in Interlochen, or items in like new condition can be taken to the Benzonia Public Library. Contact BPL for donation times and COVID protocols.

Q:  What is the library doing to keep the space clean and safe?
BSDL has developed a disinfecting protocol in accordance with CDC recommendations. Protocol actions include, but are not limited to:  

  • Staff wearing personal protection equipment throughout the day, including masks. Masks will also be made available for patrons.
  • Cleaning touched surfaces with greater frequency using guidelines and products recommended by the CDC.
  • Reducing occupancy numbers to allow for social distancing within library.
  • Time limits for library visits

Q:  What is the library doing to keep materials clean and safe?
Initially, we quarantined items for 48-72 hours. This practice of holding returned items in quarantine was based on limited COVID-19 data, which has since been expanded with revised guidance from the CDC. The CDC advises there is a low risk of spreading the virus through surfaces such as book covers, which means that a quarantine is unnecessary. According to the CDC, the virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person. The most effective precautions include washing hands often, avoiding close contact with others in public and wearing a mask over the nose and mouth.

We will continue to review the available scientific data and recommendations from the appropriate authorities, adjusting procedures if new information emerges.

Q: I don’t have my library card number and I need it to access online materials.
A:  Contact the library at, or call 352-4671 and leave a message. You can text the library at 231-216-2786. A staff member will contact you with your card number.

Q: I don’t have a library card. Can I still access online services?
A: You can apply for a card online at Or, contact the library at, or call 352-4671.

Q: I don’t have internet access at home? How can my child access their online assignments?
A:  The school districts in Benzie county are geographically some of the largest in the state. Unfortunately, our rural district is full of internet dead zones, meaning high speed internet is simply not available, or too expensive for many families. The library’s wifi is available from the parking lot. Several internet providers are temporarily offering their services to students for free. Visit to see what options are available.
Both Frankfort Elberta Area Schools (352-4641) and Benzie Central Schools (882 – 9653) are working with families to find distance learning solutions. Please don’t hesitate to contact the school for assistance.

Q: Why does each library in the area have a different COVID response?
A:  The directors of all 4 Benzie county libraries have been in communication with each other since COVID began. Each regional library is managed under it's own governing board and policies. While we all work together with a shared mission, each library's physical outlay, staffing and funding is different. It is important to every library that their community has access to library materials, but safety is top priority. This balance of access and safety looks different for each library.