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Libraries reopening Tuesday with some changes for safety

Photo Provided CHILDREN PARTICIPATE in the Jingle Bell Run inside the Martins Ferry branch of the Belmont County District Library last Christmas. When it and other branches reopen Tuesday, patrons are being asked to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

MARTINS FERRY — Public libraries share their books and other materials with thousands of people on a weekly basis.

With this in mind, patrons may be wondering how the staff can keep things clean and safe during the era of the novel coronavirus.

Now that the Belmont County District Library and its branches have a reopening date — Tuesday — they also have a plan to keep workers and patrons safe.

On the district’s Facebook page, Director Anthony Orsini said all branches will reopen Tuesday and operate from noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

To help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19, Orsini is asking that everyone entering the building wear a face covering and practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet apart from other people.

“We will be limiting the number of patrons in the library at one time,” Orsini wrote. “We highly encourage you to call ahead or request materials through our website.”

Once inside the library, patrons will notice that marks to help them adhere to social distancing guidelines will be on the floor near the checkout area. A screen will also be at the front desk to stop the possible spread of the virus between people.

“All library materials that are returned will be quarantined for four days, then cleaned and made available to the next patron,” he wrote. “Public computers have been separated to allow for social distance and will be cleaned between each use.”

Until further notice, the library is not allowing use of its meeting spaces and it will not conduct public programs, such as book readings for children or craft nights.

“Frequently contacted surfaces will be cleaned at regular intervals. Our reduced hours provide more time for a thorough cleaning of the library and materials,” Orsini added.

Because only a certain number of people can stay inside at one time, Orsini wants people to not browse for too long to “allow equal access to everyone.”

“We know that these changes are difficult. With your cooperation, we will be able to demonstrate the safe operation of the library and begin easing these restrictions over time. I thank you for your support and wish you good health and safety,” he wrote.

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