Just because the Franklin County Public Library has been closed to the public for three months due to COVID-19, doesn’t mean the staff has been kicking back reading all the good books and watching all the good DVDs they’re used to checking out to patrons. Instead, they have been busy cleaning, transitioning to a new computer software system and organizing books.
As of June 23, the Rocky Mount and Westlake buildings are open Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Curbside pickup service continues at both locations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To return items, book drops are available. The Rocky Mount book drop is available 24/7. Westlake’s book drop is open Monday to Friday only and is closed and locked on weekends.
Library Director Alison Barry said she felt Tuesday’s re-opening day went well.
“We were as excited to see our patrons as they were to see us,” Barry said.
Approximately 250 patrons visited the Rocky Mount branch and about 40 visited the Westlake branch on the first day.
May Nickolopoulos, assistant library director, said, “A lot of regulars showed up. We have the nicest patrons,” adding it was good seeing families come in.
Barry said she is pleasantly surprised at how many people have been using the curbside pickup service.
“It’s worked out very well and the patrons have been appreciative,” she said, adding she is glad the library branches have been able to provide something for parents with kids out of school.
A big change for the library has been transitioning to a new computer software system, which will save the county $15,000 annually. Barry said having the library closed to the public enabled the implementation of the programming to be moved up. She said the staff has spent a lot of time training and experimenting with the new system, which went live last Friday. She said the transition has gone well and that the library’s limited hours has eased the process.
Youngsters will find that a new customer-friendly circulation desk has been installed in the children’s department at the Rocky Mount location. Funded in part by Friends of the Library, the desk is physically welcoming to children and will enable staff to better serve its young patrons.
Children’s Librarian Dorothy Anderson is eager for children to participate in this year’s Summer Learning Program, which begins July 1. The program includes prizes; the theme is “Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate, Discover!”
Barry said the Franklin County Public Library is working diligently to provide a safe environment for its patrons, staff and volunteers. When using library facilities, patrons are asked to follow the COVID-19 public health recommendations by the Virginia Governor’s office, the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which include wearing face coverings and social distancing.
Library facilities are not open for meetings, gatherings of book clubs or other groups and new meeting room reservations are not being taken at this time.
A limited number of public computers are available for 30 minutes per user. Physical distancing and disinfecting requirements have reduced availability.
All in-person classes, events and programs, including story hours, toddler times and all other programs for children and adults, are canceled this summer.
The Bookmobile will not operate this summer.
Due to the coronavirus’ ability to live on surfaces for a period of time, all materials returned will be quarantined for 72 hours. Computer keyboards and each computer mouse will be regularly disinfected as well as the library itself. The library is following the advice of the Library of Virginia and the American Library Association.
A dedicated computer will be offered for completion of the 2020 Census. Census counts affect the amount of federal funding given to Franklin County for many vital services, including hospitals, fire departments, unemployment insurance and the library. The library staff have made it easy for the Census to be completed quickly and privately.
During the time of the library’s branch closures, fines for overdue materials have not accrued; however, the due date for all materials is now July 1.
For more information about the Franklin County Public Library, visit its website at: library.franklincountyva.gov.