Finished reading in the Great Library

Finie la lecture dans la Grande Bibliothèque

MONTREAL – It will not be possible to take a stroll in the Great Library, and it will now book its books before going to look for them in the hotel, which will open its doors gradually from Thursday.

“It is a very complex operation because now the entire collection of [three million documents] may be reserved at a distance, launches the general director of the Great Library, Martin Dubois. All the service of the collection, set aside and quarantine of the books had to be thought about.”

Martin Dubois, executive director of the Great Library

Just before its opening, we visited the Great Library, located next to the Berri-UQAM metro, to understand how the new system works.

Documents set aside

People who wish to rent a book, a disc or a film at the Great Library will have to do this by phone or over the internet. They will wait then for a confirmation of their order before being able to go and look for it on the spot.

It will not be possible to walk between the aisles to take itself the document sought. Prior to the pandemic, 695 documents were rented by the hour, every hour. The direction of the Great Library hopes to be able to respond to 75% of this demand, approximately 520 documents per hour.

50 people maximum

Outside, the people will queue at two meters of distance in a marquee which has been erected in the garden adjacent to the Large Library. A security guard will greet each user by asking him if they have symptoms associated with the COVID-19 and forcing it to disinfect one’s hands.

The user will then put in the queue inside, to fetch his order, to manage their subscription or for return of documents.

“It is estimated that it may have 50 people inside [at the time],” explains the director of services to the public, Sébastien Nadeau.

Prior to the pandemic, 1000 people could find themselves in the library, at the same time.

Books in quarantine

Every book returned will be immediately placed in quarantine for 72 hours.

“We want to ensure that there are no more traces of the virus,” says Martin Dubois.

The management would have been able to isolate the records for only 24 hours, according to the recommendations of the Committee on standards, equity, health and safety in the workplace (CNESST). It has, however, attempted to apply a more preventive, confirms Mr. Dubois.

Sébastien Nadeau, director of public services of the Great Library

During these three days of isolation, the books will be placed in an exhibition room emptied for the occasion. The room can accommodate up to 150,000 documents.

“They even check the strength of the floor to know if he could handle so many books,” says Sébastien Nadeau.

Employees left behind

Each employee will be responsible for a section of a few rows of records to avoid close contact.

Employees will not be required to wear gloves when they manipulate the books, but will be required to wash their hands frequently, at least once per hour.

The people who will greet customers and manage their orders will be behind plexiglas.

The costs related to sanitary measures amounted to 330 000$ for the whole institution Library and national Archives of Quebec, which is part of the Great Library.

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