The Columbus Metropolitan Library has extended the closure of all 23 of its branches through at least May 2.

The new closure timeline, ordered by the library system’s board of trustees March 31, aligns with Gov. Mike DeWine’s March 30 announcement to extend closure of Ohio’s public schools until May 1 and the March 22 stay-at-home order, said Ben Zenitsky, marketing and communications specialist for the library system.

The library system previously announced a closure of March 13 through at least April 6.

The new step is one of many to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“The safety of customers and staff is a priority for the library,” Zenitsky said. “Additional changes in operation will be shared as this rapidly evolving public-health situation continues to unfold.”

Thus far, the library system has had no furloughs or layoffs, Zenitsky said.

The library system also has not considered allowing the exchange of library materials in a drive-thru fashion, Zenitsky said.

“In fact, we have even closed our book drops because we don’t want people leaving their homes,” he said. “There are no staff at our locations to process those returns, (so) right now we ask that our customers hang onto their borrowed materials.”

During the closure, the library system is attempting to reach out in other ways.

“We really miss our many wonderful customers,” said Amy McLanahan, manager of the Hilliard branch.

She said she encouraged residents to check out the free digital resources at columbuslibrary.org, McLanahan said.

“It is so important that we all still find time to read, learn and unwind,” she said.

Anyone who does not have a library card may sign up at columbuslibrary.org. Patrons are encouraged to follow the library on Facebook and Twitter, Zenitsky said.

Although the library system’s branches are closed, the second phase of its $209 million “aspirational building program” that began in 2014 has not been affected, Zenitsky said.

The Karl Road branch is the first project in the $77 million second phase of the program. The $132 million first phase concluded with the opening of the Dublin branch, the 10th branch to be rebuilt, expanded or renovated, Zenitsky said.

A Karl Road branch groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for mid-March was canceled, but construction of the $21 million, 41,500-square-foot facility is expected to proceed and the branch is on schedule to open in the second quarter of 2021, Zenitsky said.

Renovation and expansion of the Hilltop branch and new branches in Gahanna and Reynoldsburg also are part of the second phase of the project, Zenitsky said.

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