Even while the building is closed to patrons, the Woodinville Library has remained an integral part of many people’s lives as students and adults stuck at home continue to borrow books, music and movies.
“Unfortunately, we don't have patrons in our building yet, so we hope to do that soon,” said Greg Smith, facilities management director for the King County Library System.
Although KCLS branches are closed to the public, employees continue to fill orders for library users to pick up curbside. In order to keep employees safe, and ultimately prepare for public use, the libraries have upgraded filters in their heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) systems to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through the air.
HVAC contractor MacDonald-Miller, based out of Redmond, worked with KCLS to ensure its libraries are safe for employees and patrons during the pandemic.
Smith said the library in Woodinville previously used a MERV 8 filter, which is a standard air filter for home and commercial environments. It has been replaced with a MERV 11 filter commonly found in hospital and general surgery settings. The new filter is supposed to catch 99% of air particles and droplets in the air, he noted.
“We're also doing a purge with our buildings,” Smith said. “What I mean by that is we're bringing in 100% outside air and flushing the buildings every night.”
Additionally, throughout the day, the library is flushing the interior air much more frequently with outside air that is cooled and then recirculated. With the current mechanical system in place, the building is able to be completely flushed with fresh air for a period of eight hours each night and then warmed back up in the morning.
Even when the building is unoccupied, Smith is able to monitor the library system’s buildings remotely to adjust the HVAC systems. The Smart Building System also notifies him if there are any problems.
Smith said there is not yet a firm date set for patrons to be allowed back inside the library, at least until the number of cases come down. In the meantime, curbside services are provided for patrons to pick up materials.
According to KCLS, people can download the myLIBRO app to schedule items for pickup. Any materials can be placed on hold for staff to pull from inside and set outside for contactless curbside pickup. Patrons may also request a surprise bag of books selected by librarians and staff for specific ages and interests.
“We miss them,” Smith said, referring to library goers. “We hope to open soon, but in the meantime, please place holds and come get what you can from us.”