Columbus Metropolitan Library: Branches reopen with pandemic protocols

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Kiera Chatman of Columbus gets a replacement library card from Elena Ende, a customer service specialist, on Sept. 29 at the Main Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. All 23 branches have reopened after being closed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sept. 28, all 23 Columbus Metropolitan Library facilities had reopened for browsing.

The Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave., and the South High branch, 3540 S. High St., were the final two to open after the entire system was closed to patrons March 13 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

"It was about capacity and staffing," said Gregg Dodd, marketing manager for the library system. "South High had some construction going on. They redid the exterior driveway and awning. It just made sense to limit service to curbside pickup until that project was done."

Those entering facilities must follow guidelines: face coverings are required for anyone older than 5, all patrons must maintain social distancing and customers who aren't feeling well are asked not to visit, Dodd said.

Floor decals will help patrons keep proper distancing and follow safe foot-traffic patterns, he said.  

Computers may be reserved an hour at a time, Dodd said. 

Plexiglass dividers have been installed to separate customers and staff, Dodd said. 

"All staff at all locations wear gloves," he said. "They wear masks, as well."

Everything is cleaned frequently, and hand-sanitizer stations are abundant, he said.

The use of courtesy phones has been prohibited temporarily, and all water fountains without bottle-refill mechanisms are off limits.

Craig Walley of Columbus looks through books on display at Columbus Metropolitan Library system's Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave. in downtown Columbus, on Sept. 29.

The library system began offering curbside delivery – which still is available – in May.  

A few branches each week have been reopened since Aug. 31, Dodd said.

"We are stocked, and we have thousands and thousands of titles in our locations," he said. "People can browse and hopefully find something they can enjoy and check out." 

The library system has introduced a grab-and-go service for those who don't want to browse, Dodd said. Customers may ask staff to choose books of a particular genre and pack them up to go, he said.

"People are super excited to be back in the library fully," said Kristine Cook, manager of adult-services division at the Main Library.

"We have been hearing from customers for a while who want that browsing experience, so we're happy to be offering that again." 

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary