The Delaware County District Library's four branches will remain closed indefinitely as officials try to figure out the best ways to keep their staff and patrons safe, according to a May 1 press release. 

The libraries in Powell, Orange Township, Delaware and Ostrander initially shut down March 16, with a plan to reopen April 5. The shutdown, in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, later was extended to May 4.

Library director George Needham said in the press release that the initial shutdown was enacted amid a "world of unknowns," but "now that we’re looking toward the future, we’re exploring how to resume services."

At an undetermined time, the libraries will reopen in phases, Needham said. 

The first phase will involve staff returning to buildings when they can do so safely.

Patrons will be allowed to return when the library can meet three conditions, Needham said. Those conditions are:

-All library employees have been trained to provide service safely.

-Sanitation supplies must be sufficient to keep the library materials and facilities properly disinfected.

-Research from trusted organizations such as Battelle, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and OCLC must confirm the adequate length of time to quarantine returned materials.

Needham said the system’s online resources at include e-books, school-support materials, research and reference materials and current magazines, all available free.

Patrons are asked not to return books, DVDs or other materials until the libraries reopen.