Anchorage libraries return to curbside-only service after two branches announce potential coronavirus exposure

Two Anchorage Public Library locations were closed Tuesday after employees were potentially exposed to COVID-19, and all library branches will offer curbside-only service starting Wednesday.

The Chugiak-Eagle River and Mountain View branches were expected to reopen Wednesday with curbside-only service, the library said in an online statement. It wasn’t immediately clear where the staff members had potentially been exposed to the virus, said community relations manager Misty Rose Nesvick.

The two branches will be staffed with employees from other locations who were not part of the potential exposure.

All Anchorage Public Libraries will transition to curbside service only beginning Wednesday in response to rising numbers of coronavirus infections. Alaska has continued to see record high daily COVID-19 case counts in recent weeks, with the highest number reported Monday.

Nesvick said the potential exposure will limit in-person services at all library branches because existing staff will be filling in at the two affected branches.

“It’s not ever an easy decision to restrict the service,” Nesvick said. “We would really like to continue serving the members of the public as much as we can, but safety of patrons and staff is always important and it’s our first priority.”

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The library system closed at the beginning of the pandemic but implemented curbside pickup in early June. Within the first few days, thousands of items were requested, Nesvick said. The initial wait to schedule appointments extended several weeks, she said.

The library buildings were partially reopened for in-person services, including computer use, on July 1. Officials hoped computer access would help people who were looking for jobs during the pandemic, Nesvick said. Protective measures like social distancing, mask wearing and time limits for computer usage were implemented. Nesvick said visitors still weren’t able to browse the shelves of books, but librarians were making personalized book recommendations.

Appointments to pick up books at any of the five branch locations can be made online or over the phone.

Nesvick said it’s unclear when the library may restore in-person services. She noted that the library is still dedicated to helping those who are out of work during the pandemic, and there are a number of online workshops aimed at resume improvement or job searching.

All locations also offer free Wi-Fi that is accessible from the parking lot.

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Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at