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Bring on the books: Carter County Public Library announces reopening plan

New Carter County librarian Christy Boggs came on at an unusual time. Shortly after she accepted the position, the library board voted to close Carter County’s two library branches to the public in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since March the library has been closed to the public, although they have still provided home book deliveries on request. They have also moved forward with plans for their summer reading program, switching from an on-site program to an online “virtual summer reading program,” Boggs said in her report to the library board last week. 

She explained the library’s phase plan for reopening begins with curbside pickup and continued home delivery. The curbside pickup began yesterday, June 16. This portion of the plan, “involves answering phones for book requests, checking the materials out to the patron, putting them in a bag, stapling the patron’s name to the bag, and putting the materials outside according to the time arranged (between the) staff member and the patron,” she explained. Patrons arranging this style of pickup will be asked to provide their first and last name, phone number, the books or other materials requested, and their preferred pickup time and date. Patrons will not be allowed into the building at this time, even to use the bathroom. 

“They must call (or) message ahead to get materials, and their materials will be outside according to the time they stated,” Boggs said. If they have not picked their materials up at the end of the day the items will be brought back inside the library and the patron will be contacted at the telephone number they have provided. 

Books returned through the book drop will be brought back inside and quarantined for at least two days before being returned to circulation. Items may also be misted with non-bleach disinfectants if they are available and will not harm the materials.

Curbside pick-up will continue through July 20. 

While Boggs acknowledged that internet and computer access is “vital to many of our patrons” they will not allow access to those services or to printing until after July 20. If a patron has a laptop or other device that can connect to the internet from outside the library they are still welcome to connect to the library wi-fi systems. In exceptional cases, she said, staff may be able to print documents for patrons and place them outside in the same manner as books and other material, if those documents are sent to the library through email or other online access. 

The summer reading program will continue online through August 15. The program can be accessed at https://caboggs2.wixsite.com/ccpl, and is open to all age groups. Prizes will be awared at the end of the program and are expected to be available for pickup by August 20. 

The library will also continue to accept book donations, for summer reading program prizes and the annual book sale. Patrons wishing to donate books are asked to leave those donations outside, after arranging for their pickup. Those books will also be quarantined and if possible disinfected before being distributed. 

The library will open their doors to the public, with some restrictions, beginning July 20. Only three individuals at a time will be allowed inside during this early reopening phase. All toys, games and puzzles usually available to small children will be put away during this second phase. Patrons will be allowed to use restrooms and computers during this phase of reopening, but staff will be required to clean the restrooms after anyone uses them. Computers will also be sanitized after each and every use. Patrons will be strongly encouraged to wear masks when utilizing the library during this reopening phase. 

“Ultimately, Phase Two will be a cautious reopening,” Boggs said in her report. “We will allow patrons inside, but restrict how many can enter at once. Computers and patrons touching materials will be the biggest issues.” She added that there needs to be further discussion about whether patrons should be allowed to retrieve their own materials, or if they should request them at the desk and have staff retrieve them. 

If all works to plan, she said, the library will return to “normal business hours and proceedings” by August 24. Depending on recommendations from the governor, she said, “masks may or may not be required” and it will be left up to employees if they wish to continue wearing masks and gloves during this phase. Until then, though, all library employees will be required to wear masks while working.

“By wearing a mak always while on duty, you are protecting yourself and your community members,” Boggs told employees in the report. 

All of this, of course, is subject to change depending on state recommendations, she added. 

“These are strange times,” she said. “The phase plan is a simple outline, and can easily change depending on what is released by the Board of Directors or the KY Governor. Ultimately (we will) use this as a template for upcoming dates and wishful planning, but be ready for sudden changes.”

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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