While we don’t know what phase public libraries will be in for re-opening and under what rules and restrictions, nothing is stopping us from planning a grand re-opening and preparing in advance. We will obviously need to get the word out and positive word-of-mouth starting!  It will be an exciting time for staff and library members in our communities.

Here are a few ideas that I have thought of for your consideration. They’re not comprehensive or localized and that’s up to you.

Do’s and Don’t’s


  • Have fun
  • Be professional
  • Look professional
  • Go for quality
  • Make signs about rules, practices and policies timely and clear and visual.
  • Have a sense of humour


  • Avoid using book binding, duct or masking tape on floors or anywhere.
  • Avoid posting dense, multi-page policies. No one has time to read them and they don’t.
  • No handwritten signs!

Red Carpet Idea

Plan a fantastic re-Opening.

I once attended a library association Gala Awards Ceremony. We all dressed up.  We walked the red carpet. Indeed, we also got to the red carpet by crawling through a  great stretch limo and emerging to an adoring crowd of reporters and photographers!  We then entered the baquet to trays of champagne and chocolates.

Get a red carpet ( a real one!) and welcome back your library members (Members of the Academy?!) with style!

If you have velvet rope and stanchions, use them.

This can last several days during specific times.

Know that the Oscars’ Line-up is slow and managed.

Just like there is ribbon of the moment at every Oscars event, ask people to wave their library cards.

If your line-up outdoors or in is along windows, display cases, or wherever – Make sure their are displays, posters in the windows, and something interesting to do. If the weather is nice, take a book cart display outside.

Position a staff photographer or two and do glamour shots with books.  It’s a natural for your press to ask “Whom are you reading?”  Carry a microphone.  If you can, take video for website and social media excitement.

Consider ginger ale champagne and treats!

Invite your usual celebs – local politicians, celebs, authors, etc.

Invite the press and media.

Have fun and try a gala dress or Tuxedo or two!

Free image/jpeg, Resolution: 700×589, File size: 54Kb, Cartoon Star On Red Carpet drawing


Library Gardens

Make your best impression and use this time now that the nurseries are open to ensure that your grounds are raked, sidewalks swept, gardens are planted and looking great.  You ARE making a new impression with a grand re-opening.

And, since it is likely your event rooms will not be programmed right away and large groups may not be allowed, you need to consider upping your display game using meeting rooms and other open areas.

Also, build trust by displaying your infection led cleaning upgrades and protocols to build trust with your returning public. (Make sure all staff are oriented to this and the talking points).

Floor Decals Sidewalk Decals

Here’s some inspiration! (Hint – All I did was search Coronavirus or COVID carpet or sidewalk decals on Google Images.)  Most local printers can do these and you can customize them with your identity, words and branding.

As noted earlier, standard tapes leave awful glue marks that get worse over time.  These decals are better and look more professional.  They will stand up better over the oft-predicted/estimated 18-24 months of this change in behaviour. Most work well on carpet, carpet tiles, ceramic tiles, hardwood, or stone and last a good length of time.

Be creative! We want our staff and members to be safe and confident and maintain the trust we enjoy with them as they return to the library.

Plexiglas Screens

I’ve wandered about my neighbourhood and took a few pictures after talking to the proprietors of these establishments.  Check out the community standards for retail screens in your community.  Look for inspiration as to what you need to order or have made.

Inside Your Library

Every library is different but it is likely that your aisles (especially in the stacks) aren’t wide enough for two people to pass.

As such, this is a solvable issue.  Most of your stacks aisles will likely need to be made one-way streets.  You’ll need to consider which traffic patterns in your library make it the safest for staff and users.  You need to maintain their trust to keep them coming back and to create the community chat that your library is safe and ready.

Here are some decal inspiration for that:

Returns (and lots of them)

Most libraries are just not set up to hold their whole collection!  And we likely won’t see outgoing circulation return to normal due to building occupancy limits and lining up.  You may want to consider an outdoor, curbside drop-off/ drive-by point at certain times. You’ll also need to isolate materials for a few days before processing.  Anyway, there are solutions for this and you may already have some of these.  They’re useful long term too.

Plastic Box Truck | Poly Box Cart on Wheels | Agrico plastics14 Bushel Yellow Poly Box Truck: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

Medium plus ced79 livingbasics gw cth 15 all patio garden gorilla cart with removable sides and 13 inch tires and 440 pound capacity

Temporary Signs

For those you with Laser-Cutters you can go to town and have fun.

Others can always use sidewalk chalk (and not just outside the library branches).

A chalk message and rainbow adorn a driveway with a positive message in the fight against the coronavirus at a Bloomington, Minn. home Wednesday, April 1, 2020, The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A Little Fun

I couldn’t believe the nail art decals that I tripped over while searching but this could be fun for some!

Masks Masks Masks

There has been no end of creativity on masks for everyone’s safety and confidence.  Encourage creativity! The plain white standard can always use a smile, logo, welcome back, or rainbow drawn on it.  Rule one is don’t make them any scarier than they are.  Here’s a photo of mine:

No photo description available.


Don’t neglect the washrooms

Mostplanner start here so I’ll end here.

I think we should be direct but fun.


This post isn’t an exhaustive list.  It’s just a few ideas and perspectives to add to your already developed plan and thinking.

Just keep remembering that you, your staff and your library are beloved locally and everyone will be cheering for you to re-open safely and be ready for their use in phases.

Be well!