The Clinton-Quisenberry Library has opened its doors after weeks of closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday, June 5, marked the first day of operation for the library. Hours are 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The library on Northside Drive, a branch of the Jackson Hinds Library System, has been closed for over two months, with patrons of all ages missing library services, from books to computers. The annual Easter egg hunt for the younger patrons was canceled, along with the traditional celebration of National Library Week in April, events coordinated by the Friends of the Library with the library staff. The upcoming Summer Reading Program will be an online event this year, according to Kimberly Corbett, deputy director of the library system. Kits are being prepared for boys and girls, with “take it and make it” bags to be distributed. Crafts, color sheets and ideas for fun activities for families to enjoy at home will be included. Because of the challenges faced, she said, “We’re trying to step up our game on the digital side.”
In order to enter the library, patrons should wear masks, submit to a temperature check, use hand sanitizer and answer a short COVID-19 symptom questionnaire to make sure that public health and safety can be maintained. The library system will use fogging machines at many of the larger locations, and individualized procedures at other branches at the beginning of the day, as well as hourly wipe-downs of public service desks and computer areas to prevent the spread of the virus.
For those who aren’t yet ready to return to the inside of the library but still desire to use library materials, a new text-based curbside pickup option will be available at several branches. Customers can use their phones or tablets to reserve books online, and they will receive a text message when items are ready for pickup by contactless delivery right to their car. Special parking spaces will be available for curbside pickup customers much like other local restaurants and businesses have been using. This service is designed to give access to the library collections at Quisenberry, Welty, Willie Morris and Alexander libraries.
The four-stage plan for resuming operations of the Hinds branch libraries was approved May 29 by the Jackson-Hinds System Board of Trustees.
According to Patty Furr, executive director of the library system, “The coronavirus has given us a whole new set of challenges for our staff to face in order to provide library services in the safest way possible. The library system will reopen branches on a staggered schedule that allows staff to have a full day of hands-on training at their home branch based on the latest advice from local, state and federal health officials. They should be ready to open each library’s doors to the public on the following day with the confidence gained from having learned new procedures of doing their normal library work.”
Seven of the largest libraries, including Clinton’s, set opening dates for June. Eudora Welty Library in downtown Jackson opened its doors Wednesday, June 3, and Willie Morris opened on Tuesday, June 8. Medgar Evers set June 11 and Margaret Walker Alexander, June 16, to begin library services again. Others will open in late June and July.
All hours at these branches will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Furr asks that patrons keep in mind that not all areas of the libraries will be available at first. Due to social distancing concerns, customers will be able to access only about half of each library’s public computers, most of the book stacks, the circulation desk and the library restrooms. Other areas of the building, such as the quiet reading areas with lounge furniture, study tables, print magazines and newspapers, and group study rooms will remain closed until the virus threat recedes. The meeting rooms in most libraries will not be available to the public due to the difficulties with cleaning the areas and the fifty-percent capacity rule in the recent Governor’s order.
Furr said, “We hope that many of our senior patrons who are more vulnerable to the virus will take advantage of this new text-based service or order books by just calling their local library on the phone. Staff members will be standing by to help customers order items for curbside pickup at each of the libraries opening in July.”
She noted that of all the services offered, the most inquiries concern use of the public access computers at each library.
“We know that many of our customers depend on our public access computers and fast internet bandwidth to look for employment and apply for jobs. With the huge numbers of persons recently unemployed needing to file unemployment claims and look for jobs, we know that demand will be very heavy at all of our locations.”
For more information, call the Clinton-Quisenberry Library at 924-5684.
Article and Photo By Carole Kelly