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Tillamook County Library, located in downtown Tillamook. 

The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners agreed during an emergency meeting Thursday, Nov. 19, to keep the Tillamook County Library closed to the public and remain open for curbside service only. The board of commissioners had passed a board order during an emergency meeting Tuesday, Nov. 17, closing certain Tillamook County offices to the public as part of Gov. Kate Brown’s Two-Week Freeze.

Brown had announced on Friday, Nov. 13, a statewide Two-Week Freeze that began Nov. 18 to halt the rapid spread of COVID-19. One of the measures requires all businesses to mandate work from home to the greatest extent possible and close offices to the public.

Joel Stevens, Tillamook County Counsel, said on Nov. 13, the county received the governor’s press release about mandates that would be coming in an executive order. The executive order had not been released at the time of the county’s emergency meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

“The board signed an order implementing the guidelines that were recommended by the health department and mentioned in the governor’s press release,” Stevens said. “Later that afternoon, an executive order was released by the governor’s office.”

The executive order was discussed briefly in Wednesday’s board meeting, Nov. 18. This board chose to mirror the requirements in the executive order.

“The library has a game plan that I believe is in compliance with the executive order,” Stevens said.

The Tillamook County Library had a plan to follow the order to the greatest extent possible, while remaining open to the public through their express service.

“They just have a trickle of people come in for express service,” Commissioner Mary Faith Bell said. “What that looks like is there are very few people coming in, they’re fully masked, they’re cleaning very regularly, people are only allowed to stay in the building for about 15 minutes to pick up a book and check it out themselves.”

Extension Librarian Bill Landau said the express service allows people not to have to make an appointment to come in. People are in and out and have been respectful of the 15-minute time limit.

“The public comes in and they can scan their own library card either with our self-check kiosk or at the branches we have it set up, they can scan their own card, put their books on the pad, and pick them up,” Landau said. “There is nothing that is touched between the staff and the public.”

Library Director Sara Charlton said the library has been very slow. The staff is thanked every time people come in, she added.

“At the main library, we upped the air flow on our main furnace,” Charlton added.

Commissioner David Yamamoto said everyone should take a step back and understand why the governor carried out her executive order. When the county put the board order together for their emergency meeting on Nov. 17, they stated the library could remain open for curbside service.

Yamamoto said the options the county provided in the board order still gives people the opportunity to get their books without going into the building.

Commission Chair Bill Baertlein said other libraries in the state are closed and not offering curbside service. He was also concerned about putting employees at risk.

Commissioner Mary Faith Bell said she does not support the governor’s one-size-fits-all approach and is hoping for updated metrics in two weeks. She added that some of the bigger libraries have not opened since the spring because they are not allowed to because of their county’s high number of COVID-19 cases.

“I am hoping we are able to utilize metrics, not a one-size-fits-all,” Yamamoto said.

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