Mandatory Masks

Starting date and options

Since re-opening on Monday, June 1st, we have recommended that people wear masks, but as of Wednesday, July 1st, we now require all library users (and staff) to wear masks. Given the recent spike in cases nation-wide and in Dane County, we think this is a simple step that everyone can take to protect the community.

We encourage you to bring your own masks, but we will have disposable masks on-hand in case you forget or weren’t aware of our change in policy, which is understandable. If you’d rather not wear a mask, but still want to get library materials, we encourage you to use our Curbside Pickup service, which has continued since we’ve re-opened. It’s quick and safe.

This is a hard moment, but a brief one in our long history. Right now we need to act collectively to reduce our overall threat during this time of risk and uncertainty. If the cases decrease in the months ahead, we'll re-visit the policy, but for now, it's a simple step among many that we can take to keep the community safe.

Patrons who cannot wear a mask because of a medical condition are allowed to use the library, but those patrons will be asked to leave the building if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19.

What do masks do?

Rich Davis, a Clinical Microbiology Lab Director at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, Washington recently demonstrated what masks do—they block respiratory droplets coming from your mouth and throat.

He conducted two simple demonstrations:

First, he sneezed, sang, talked, and coughed toward an agar culture plate with and without a mask. Bacteria colonies showed where droplets landed. A mask blocked virtually all of them.

Second, he set open bacteria culture plates 2, 4, and 6 feet away and coughed hard for about fifteen seconds. He repeated this without a mask. As seen by the number of bacteria colonies, droplets mostly landed in less than six feet, but a mask blocked nearly all of them.

NPR also recently covered how masks have helped New York keep Covid caseloads down. This is one reason we're now requiring masks. We want to remain open so that we can continue to serve those who want to use the library. Hopefully this simple safety measure can help us do that. As always, if there are any concerns or questions about what we're doing at the library, you can let us know.

Alex LeClair (Director):