Letter from the Director: A Responsible ReStart Plan for Library Services

Thank you!

First, I would like to thank all our customers and community members for their support of and continued use of the Library during the current coronavirus pandemic that has caused our closure! We have seen customers quickly and enthusiastically adopting new ways of interacting with us including increases in our eBook and eMaterial use and participation in both our live and recorded virtual programs and presentations!

Second, thanks to our amazing staff for their flexibility and perseverance during this difficult time. Many staff members continue to work remotely from home including those who are answering your calls, emails and chat questions.  We recently made the very difficult decision to furlough or reduce the hours of those staff not able to perform the full scope of their duties at this time, and in anticipation of expected budget shortfalls at the state level. Yet there is no doubt that our staff is the key ingredient to our being one of the nation’s top libraries.  It is thanks to staff efforts and ingenuity that even during this unprecedented crisis we have continued to offer service in real time from real people.  We are here for you and will continue to be so.

Services coming back soon!

We miss you and want to provide you with more robust services! We hope to have direction from the Ohio Department of Health very soon that will enable us to restart services sometime in May, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Specifically, we hope to be able to re-open our drive-thrus and book drops as well as provide curbside service. However, our buildings will remain closed to the public for the month of May.

Following the Lead from the State of Ohio

I can assure you we are focused on a safe, realistic and service-oriented approach to restoration of services. As the state moves to recover and learn to operate in a new world that continues to have the threat of the coronavirus ever-present, the Governor did provide just this Monday an outline of how the state will approach the coming weeks via the Responsible ReStart Ohio Plan, opens a new window. While some key parts of industry and retail are slated to reopen in the next two weeks, a substantial number of business and organizations are on the Governor’s Continued Closures list, opens a new window. And Ohio’s Stay at home order (PDF format) has been extended until May 29 with only the exceptions outlined by the state's phased-in reopening plan.

We will follow the state’s plan outlined by the Ohio Department of Health (though recognize that they are ever-evolving as Governor DeWine states daily). We will not re-open our facilities to the public on May 1. The Governor has been clear that gatherings of more than 10 people are still not permitted.  

All services are contingent on conditions outlined by the Ohio Department of Health’s Responsible RestartOhio plan including:

  • Our ability to ensure that we have enough available personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer for staff.  These items are in high demand and we are doing all we can to ensure we have what we need, but availability of these essential supplies may vary and impact our ability to obtain needed PPE.
  • Facilities conditions that are outlined as best practices by the Governor’s recent information on operating during the pandemic, including HVAC conditions and HEPA filtering options.
  • Time for daily disinfecting of work surfaces and areas, and access to the needed disinfecting supplies to accomplish this.
  • Staggered start and work times for staff members.
  • Protocols for staff members to perform daily symptom assessments.
  • Working staff in specific “teams” or “pods,” as is the best practice from many essential businesses (health care, day care, firefighters, utility workers) that have been operating during the pandemic, so as to limit potential exposure for staff and customers to different groups of people as much as possible.
  • Making sure locations from which we offer service have space for physical distancing among our staff and a reasonable area for pick-up by customers that also permits the required 6 feet of physical distancing space.

Materials on Hold

We also know many customers are anxious to place items on hold and pick up items that were waiting for them prior to our closure on March 14. During May we will work on contacting customers with items that were (and still are) waiting for them, work to gather holds that were placed after our closure but before we stopped taking new holds, and finally, announce a specific date when we can turn on the options for placing new holds once we are caught up.

No In-Person Events in May

Additionally, we will not plan in-person meetings, events, and programs for May and are not certain that we will have any option for considering the restoration of these services until later in the summer. We will continue to offer our online events and programs, and intend to increase our offerings in May. We will also continue to provide help via phone, email and chat seven days a week.  

Thank you for your support of the Library and for your understanding and patience as we develop strategies for bringing back services in a phased approach that seeks to ensure the safety of community members and staff.  We want to serve our community, and we want our community to remain safe and healthy.

For the latest Library service updates, visit our Library Restart page