Pocahontas Libraries Beginning a Slow Phased Reopening Process
Since many other businesses are reopening in WV, a lot of people have been wondering about the Pocahontas Libraries. Cree Lahti, the Director of the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitors’ Centers updates us on their status.
“I wanted to give an update on what is happening at the libraries while the buildings are closed” said Lahti. “We have worked with the West Virginia Library Commission to open up our WIFI in four of the five libraries. So, the WIFI can be picked up outside the buildings of the Durbin Library; Marlinton, Hillsboro and Linwood Libraries.”
“We are also working with the West Virginia Library Commission to provide a virtual summer reading program called ‘Read Squared,’ and our Librarians are working towards providing resources and activities for children over the summer that are also not computer based, like make and take activities and books that they can take home.”
“Additionally, our Librarians are working in our libraries to provide a virtual reference for people. This can happen over phone, email or chat and patrons can call and ask questions. The Librarians are working in shifts, so if it is at a time when the Librarian is not there, leave a message, and the Librarian will return your call. We’ve also set up an email account –‘email@example.com.’ Patrons can send inquiries to this email, and staff will get back with them.”
“One common question is how to download digital items. eBooks and audio books are free. The service we use is through ‘West Virginia Reads’ and patrons can download books onto their device for a loan of up to two weeks. You do need a valid library card and you need to setup an account with West Virginia Reads -but we have put a digital library card application on our website, pocahontaslibrary.org. People can go online and apply for a digital library card or renew their card. And once again, if they have any trouble, they can call the library or email the Librarian and we’ll help walk them through that process.”
“Another common question is what to do with overdue books while the library is closed. You can go ahead and return materials to the drop boxes and all fines will be waived during this time. Patrons do not need to contact the library -fines will automatically be waived.”
“The last question that I am getting a lot is when will the library be opening back up? Right now the current recommendation is to have a phased reopening. And, so as I have mentioned, we currently have the virtual services provided. The next phase is a curbside checkout. And this service is where patrons can call or email their requests to the Librarian. The Librarian will check out the item, package it up and leave it on the curbside checkout cart for the patron to pick up at a scheduled time. This is a contact list service so we do request that people call ahead and request the items so the Librarian has time to prepare. This service will be offered at all five libraries, and the schedule is still being finalized. But patrons can call the library for updated dates and times and we’ll let the radio station know, and the Pocahontas Times as well as on our website and our Facebook page.”
“It is really important for us to make sure we are keeping our staff and our communities safe during this time. And we are following the recommendations given for public libraries. We appreciate everybody’s patience and we are committed to serving our communities in these new ways during this challenging time.”
Had you considered maybe opening without meetings and restricting the number of people in the libraries?
“That will be the next phase” Lahti answered. “So we’ll start out with the curbside checkout. Libraries throughout the state and throughout the country are going through this same process of figuring out safety guidelines in order to allow people to come in and use the computers. And we will be offering that as soon as we can, but we don’t have a timeline for that at this point.:
Just thought since all the other businesses are opening, even the bars, that you all would too. “Public libraries are certainly far less challenging” said Lahti. “Part of what public libraries do is create spaces for the community, and we loan things that get returned and we check them out again and so there’s a lot of safety precautions that we have to figure out and I am keeping a close eye on what the safety precautions are we will be offering those services as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.”