Local Libraries Close to General Public During Crisis

In response to the continuing public crisis over the coronavirus (COVID-19) the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County has announced it will close all of its locations to the general public at 5 p.m. today but will continue to provide library services through alternative means.

Library director John Chidester issued the following statement Monday morning:

“For the safety and health of our patrons and staff, the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County will close all of its locations in Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Danville, and Gambier at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16.”

The closings will be for an indefinite duration. During the period of closure Library staff will continue to work to provide library services in the following ways:

— Phone assistance to answer questions and provide information for persons with no internet access, who are isolated and may need to speak to another human.

— Online chat help to answer questions and help connect patrons to digital and online resources, especially those who may be undergoing self-quarantine.

— Increase in digital holdings to make e-books and e-audio books more immediately available.

— Promotion of digital and online resources on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

— Facilitation of applications for online library cards to provide check-out of e-materials without entering the building.

— Streaming of some programming content and storytimes online, possibly with a live chat feature for social interaction.

— Provision of WIFI signals accessible to persons in parking lots to allow them to access the internet safely from their cars.

There may be a delay of a few days while some of these services are being established. The Library is also working on being able to provide limited access to physical materials (books, CDs and DVDs) by staff-facilitated pre-selection without having patrons actually enter the buildings. Further details on this process are expected to be announced later this week.

As of late Sunday, about 50 Ohio libraries had announced closings of branches and main locations for some period of time. The Ohio Library Council sent e-mails to Ohio library directors late Sunday indicating that a list of all library closings statewide would be published on Monday.

We apologize for the inconvenience but hope that people will understand and cooperate in our efforts to continue library services through this difficult time.”

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