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Meade County Public Library sets reopening date, forgives fines

 The Meade County Public Library is planning to reopen on July 9 under the Healthy at Work guidelines. This means there will be changes in both hours and operation of the facility.


 Hours have been reduced because the library is only allowed 50 percent staffing, and staff needs time to clean and restock shelves and supplies. The new limited hours will be from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday; and from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.


 Nothing will be returned inside the library. Instead, patrons will utilize the book drop, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once the library receives a return, the item(s) will be placed in quarantine for 72 hours before being cleaned and returned to the shelves. A greeter will be present in the lobby to monitor the number of people entering, provide guidance, take temperatures and offer masks and hand sanitizer. Capacity is limited to 30 patrons. Children 12 and under must remain with their parent or guardian at all times. Patrons will be limited to one hour of computer use per day, and only seven computers will be available so that social distancing can be practiced. Priority will be given to unemployment filing, job searching, scanning, copying, school work and research. Assistance will be available for quick reference. Staff will not be able to provide extended technology assistance.


 As patrons browse to find books, audios, movies, etc. to check out, they will be asked to place items that they do not want on orange carts throughout the library. Staff will then clean the items and re-shelve them. Computers, desks and chairs will be cleaned after each usage. Restrooms will be cleaned every hour, and surfaces will be sanitized as needed.


Employees are required to wear a mask, and patrons are encouraged to wear one. Masks will be provided by the library. Employees will also wear gloves, and temperatures will be recorded daily. Temperatures of patrons will also be taken. Hand sanitizer will also be available to patrons as long as supplies last.


 Both the facility and all the books in it have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.


 Additionally, interlibrary loans, which are books from other libraries, have been reinstated. Patrons can now request books again that the MCPL does not have, and the librarian will try to locate a copy from another library. The Bookmobile is servicing daycares, assisted living homes, the elderly and homebound. Patrons can also take advantage of the library’s curbside pickup program.


 Donations will not be accepted. All program rooms, the café, water fountains and play areas will be closed. Magazines, toys, most chairs, and study rooms will not be available. Newspapers will be available at the front desk, but patrons must wear a mask and gloves while reading them. No in-person programs will be offered at this time, but many programs are offered online via Zoom. Patrons may go to the “Event Calendar” on the library’s website, www.meadereads.org, to see what is offered and for the Zoom passwords. Each Tuesday, the children’s department staff are offering grab and go kits and supplies for parents and guardians to pick up at curbside between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.


The Genealogy and History room will be open, but guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of patrons. Hand sanitizer should be used before entering. Only one person in the room unless it is a family. Frequently touched surfaces will be sanitized. Gloves and masks are required and will be furnished. Patrons will leave materials out for staff to clean and file.


 MCPL Director Margaret Benham says that patrons are encouraged to come in, get what they need, check out and leave.


The library has also announced “Amnesty for All,” which waives all prior fines and fees for each patron. This one-time amnesty includes charges for lost or damaged items that occurred prior to March 16, 2020. The Board of Trustees agreed that the library should help those who have suffered ruing the pandemic, and forgiving fines will allow more people to take advantage of the library’s resources without having financial pressure.


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