Bexley Public Library reopens for limited in-person services

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Steve Clymer of Bexley, looks over books March 9 at the Bexley Public Library, which has reopened for limited browsing.

Reopening for limited browsing and the annual Bexley Community Author Series are among the Bexley Public Library’s spring programs and initiatives. 

After closing for in-person computer use and browsing in spring 2020 amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the library, 2411 E. Main St., began offering appointments for computer use Oct. 12 and reopened for limited in-person browsing for 30 people at a time Nov. 2. The library suspended in-person services Nov. 21 when the number of coronavirus cases began to spike throughout Franklin County. 

With numbers declining in recent weeks and the vaccine rollout continuing, the library reopened for limited browsing in the first full week of March, Director Ben Heckman said. “The situation was right with the numbers coming down, with the data from Franklin County and (the city of Bexley) COVID task force,” Heckman said. “We are watching the numbers. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the future, so we’re trying to remain flexible.” 

Library hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

In addition to limited browsing, the library’s computers are available for patron use for up to an hour per session on a first-come, first-served basis. The library also will continue to offer curbside pickup of books and other circulating materials, as well as home delivery for the 43209 ZIP code, Heckman said. 

Mary Matheny, circulation assistant at the Bexley Public Library, processes items March 9.

In deciding whether to continue limited browsing and to eventually expand in-person services, Heckman said he and the library staff will monitor county and Bexley-specific COVID-19 data and consult with neighboring libraries. 

“Franklin County Libraries, we’ve been talking every other week,” Heckman said. “Mostly we’re all on the same schedule.” 

Throughout the pandemic, the library has offered virtual programming on its website, bexleylibrary.org. The Bexley Community Author Series event with best-selling author Susan Orlean, an Ohio native, at 7 p.m. April 27 will be virtual and free, although registration is required. Orlean will discuss her latest work, “The Library Book,” about how libraries contribute to the communities they serve. 

Heckman said he’s hopeful that the virtual event will attract as much interest as previous in-person Community Author Series programs.  

“I have to credit the incredible staff who pivoted so quickly to take our events virtual. We still have a strong showing of people showing up for our virtual events,” Heckman said. “With some of our virtual programs, we’ve had a little higher attendance because people can log on from home.” 

Also this year, Heckman said the Bexley Public Library will embark on updating its strategic plan that will guide it into the future and will include public input. 

“With all the changes that have taken place with COVID, we’re offering different services,” he said. “Things have changed so much, we figure people want us to keep some of those services.” 

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