All 23 locations of the Columbus Metropolitan Library will remain closed after May 2, extending the previously announced closure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The extended closure does not have an end date, library spokesman Ben Zenitsky said Thursday, April 30.

However, plans are underway to initiate a phased reopening of some of the physical locations, Zenitsky said.

“At this time, it is our hope that we can make critical but minimal services available to our customers at some locations by the end of May,” Zenitsky said.

Nothing has been determined, including which locations might open and what services would be available, he said.

The library system is focusing on a procedure that could allow customers to visit certain locations for Internet access and computer use, Zenitsky said.

The circulation of physical materials is being considered as a separate policy, he said.

To that end, the library system has sent “about a dozen different kinds of materials” to Battelle Memorial Institute for it to research and find how long the coronavirus can live externally on books and other items, Zenitsky said.

The circulation of materials depends on those findings, he said.

The availability of personal-protection equipment, such as masks and gloves, for library staff members is a factor in deciding when it is safe to open any location for any limited public services, Zenitsky said.

Any opening would require employees and customers to adhere to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including social distancing and other measures, Zenitsky said.

“Our executive leadership and the board of trustees are working on policies with the hope of a limited, phased reopening in May,” he said.

Patrick Losinski, CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, said the system would provide advance notice about specific locations and services as soon as possible.

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