Worthington Libraries closed indefinitely after brief reopening

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Old Worthington Library is at 820 High St. in Worthington.

For a brief period this month, operations might have seemed almost back to normal at the three Worthington Libraries branches, but Franklin County's return Oct. 15 to the "red" Level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System is keeping patrons out once again.

After the branches closed when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began to peak in mid-March in the U.S. and then began adding curbside services in late May, they had reopened Oct. 5 with limited capacity and offerings.

But effective Oct. 16, the branches have been closed indefinitely after Franklin County reached Level 3 for the first time since August, according to library officials.

Before the closure, the reopening had come with much fanfare from patrons, they said.

“People have been really happy,” Susan Allen, the system's director of public service, said before the Oct. 15 turn of events. “We’ve had so many people tell us, 'We’ve missed this so much.’

"Some people have told us, ‘This has been the highlight of my day coming here,’ and people have been very happy to be able to just come back to the library and browse the shelves.”

During the brief reopening, the Old Worthington Library on High Street was limited to 25 people inside at a time, the Northwest Library on Hard Road had permitted 35 people and the Worthington Park Library on Worthington Centre Drive had permitted 20.

However, visitor numbers had been down compared to prepandemic levels. 

“The foot traffic in the building is below our normal levels," said Lisa Fuller, director of community engagement, before the Oct. 15 announcement. "We are not seeing the same number of people in our buildings as we were prior COVID.

“We’re also limiting capacity, but we have not had a line at our door typically."

Patrons had been able to browse the shelves and check out materials to take home – though such amenities as comfortable seating and computer usage still were unavailable – but services now have been rolled back to curbside pickup of materials only.

Fuller said Oct. 15 that curbside services would stay in effect if the county remained at Level 3 the following week. Gov. Mike DeWine typically announces status changes for the Ohio Public Health Advisory System every Thursday, with the next expected update being Oct. 22.

For more information, go to worthingtonlibraries.org

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve