King City Library welcomes its first patron, Michael, for computer use last week. He was one of the first community members in the county who was able to walk into a local library branch and use computers after some indoor services reopened. (Contributed Photo)

KING CITY — Computers will be available to the public at King City Library on Thursdays as part of the slow rollout of reopening indoor services. 

Branches within Monterey County Free Libraries, including King City, will continue their curbside service on regular days and hours. King City, Seaside, Castroville and Prunedale, however, are the four branches that have added indoor computer use starting last week.

“We’re open for computers, making sure all of our policies and protocols work smoothly for staff and the public, and then we’ll start adding to the services,” said Robin Cauntay, King City Library branch manager.

Prior to computers being reopened to the public, library staff was able to help with photocopying and faxing items. Patrons would bring their items during curbside service and hand them off to staff, who would take care of the need inside the closed library before handing the paperwork back to the patron. 

Some tasks, however, need a person to be directly involved in their process. 

“Tax time is coming up, or if you want to schedule vaccine appointments, or you have a resume you have to finish because there’s so many unemployed, or what if you need job applications,” Cauntay said about the various needs for in-person computer use.

A maximum capacity of six people will be allowed into the library in 45-minute blocks for computer use. At the end of each block, library staff will clean the room in the 15 minutes before the next block of computer time. Five blocks of time will currently happen each hour at the King City branch, 402 Broadway St.

Those wishing to use the computers need to call ahead and schedule an appointment. Anyone coming through the library doors will need to go through a symptom check, which includes a hands-free temperature check. 

Community members will be required to follow safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask. 

Anyone who shows up with a family member must remain together or schedule separate appointments because the extra person counts toward the maximum capacity of six patrons currently allowed in the library at once.

“We want to give as many people a chance to get in here as we possibly can,” Cauntay said.

For the first day open, King City had one patron out of its total 30 possible. Two called in ahead, but one canceled and the other was a no-show, while another person found out about the program when he walked up to the library.

Cauntay noted the rollout was expected to be slow with limited public awareness of the program. She even waited until days before the first opening to announce it online.

“So far we’ve been having tons of people do the print, copy, fax during curbside,” Cauntay said. “That eased a lot of that need for the library.”

The library still offers holds and creates book bags for patrons. Cauntay said the shelves are not open for browsing, even though she knows of many people who want to come in and browse again.

“That’ll come next,” Cauntay said. “That’s a little more logistically complicated, having people going through the shelves. If they take an item off the shelf, it’s got to be quarantined.”

Current library policy for all county branches is to quarantine items for 72 hours.

Cauntay said the library is preparing for its summer reading program to be virtual this year, but will still give youth activity bags and prizes. 

Overall, she said the library system has adjusted to the pandemic by ordering more electronic materials, such as e-books, rather than print copies, to serve readers while the libraries themselves remain closed to the public.

The King City Library can be reached for computer appointments at 831-385-3677.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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