Public libraries in White County are opening back up to allowing patrons inside with some restrictions.
According to the White County Regional Library System, all of its branches, except the El Paso Community Library will reopen Monday. The El Paso library will be reopening Tuesday.
Ramona Howell, branch manager for the Goff Public Library in Beebe, said the library will be open to the public on a limited basis with patron visits from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Visits will be limited to 30 minutes and a restricted number of visitors will be allowed in the library at any given time. Appointments can be made for a visit by calling (501) 882-3235.
“We have been closed since March and we have been doing curbside service since May, and we will continue to do that curbside service to those who prefer not to visit the library,” Howell said.
Howell said she wants the public to know that even though the library has been closed, the staff has been ordering new books and new materials. “They are all here waiting for them to take advantage of, for kids and adults” she said.
Public computer use at the Goff Public Library also will be available from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday but there will be a limit of two people using computers at a time. One computer will be used for drop-in customers and one will be by appointment only. Computer usage is currently for nonrecreational use and is limited in duration.
Curbside item pickups will be continuing from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m.-noon taturday.
Upon arrival, patrons should call the library and a staff member will come to the front door to take the person’s temperature. A patron’s temperature must be 100.3 degrees or below to enter the library. Patrons also must wear a mask at all times while inside the library. Social distancing is also required.
The Searcy Public Library is going to start out opening from 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
“We are going to start with that,” said Darla Ino, director of the White County Regional Library System. “They [patrons] will have to wear a mask; it is going to be required. They are going to take temperatures in the foyer. Visits will be limited to 30 minutes.”
According to Ino, the Searcy Public Library has been allowing patrons to come in and use the computers since June, but it has been closed since March to other visits and has been offering curbside service.
There will be a limit of four people in the public computer area and a limit of three at a time for browsing the adult and young adult collections, Ino said. There will be a limit of one family at a time in the children’s area.
She said library staff has been good about working with people on appointments to use the computers.
Curbside for library materials pickup, printing, fax and copy services will be continuing Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
When the library began offering curbside service, Ino said it was pretty easy to move to that option because it has an online catalog and people were pretty much used to placing reserves online.
“That’s been the tool for us to use for our curbside pickup of physical materials and we have a large digital collection as well because we are part of the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium, and we have another service through Hoopla. That made it really where people could really access things.”
Curbside was done for a couple weeks in March after the library closed on the inside but then it stopped and resumed May 18. “It has been very successful. We’ve been moving quite a few materials,” Ino said. “I think last month it was 9,000 checkouts systemwide with physical materials. It’s between a third and fourth of what we usually do.”
All of the items that come into the library are being quarantined, she said, like all returned materials and things that come through delivery.
“We wipe those things down and then we quarantine them,” Ino said. “The concern we have is if we have people in the library pulling things out, they are touching these items, so we are going to strongly suggest that when people come they will be careful to pull out the things that they really might be interested in. If we know those things are handled, we will actually put those things in quarantine for four days.”
Ino said the library staff is always happy to help people and will gladly assist them.
“We have spent this time [while being closed] really working on our collection,” she said. “We have weeded a lot of older materials. We have continued to order [new materials] every month. Our catalogers have been here every day and we have never missed work with that. We have continued to add new materials. We have a lot of new things here that you didn’t see the last time.”