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Brooke County Public Library Reopens With Some Changes

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Public Library and its Follansbee branch have reopened following shelter-in-place orders while implementing some temporary safety procedures and preparing for a big change that will make more books and other materials available to their patrons.

Alex Schneider, the libraries’ director, said they have joined many businesses and government offices following safe opening procedures prescribed by health officials.

Visitors won’t be able to browse the libraries’ bookshelves for a while but may use the libraries’ digital card catalog, which has been covered with plastic so it can be disinfected regularly by staff.

Once a patron has selected a book, movie or other item, staff will retrieve it for them from the sections, which have been temporarily taped off.

Schneider said library patrons also may use an online card catalog at tinyurl.com/yakpr4qg and order up to five books or other materials from their homes by calling the Wellsburg location at 304-737-1551, the Follansbee branch at 304-527-0860 or visiting nwvlc.clark.lib.wv.us.

After receiving the orders, staff will gather the materials for pickup at an arranged time from the libraries’ vestibules.

She said it’s a service offered by many libraries following the shelter-in-place order and may become a permanent offering at the Brooke County libraries.

“A lot of us are saying, why didn’t we do this before? I think it may be a great way to serve many of our working people,” Schneider said.

She said patrons who miss browsing the libraries’ shelves may try their new Masked Reads service. Through it, books are suggested to patrons who indicate their favorite authors and genres, with all such information kept confidential, Schneider said of the program, which was named for the masks worn by many at this time.

She said because of limited staff, the libraries aren’t able to provide the curbside service available at some other libraries.

Schneider said those who patronize various West Virginia libraries may find different measures being taken, as the governor’s office hasn’t prescribed specific measures for them.

“We just took our cues from the local government offices that have opened,” she said.

Schneider said after consulting the Brooke County Health Department, she and the library’s board of trustees have agreed to encourage patrons to wear masks while requiring staff to wear them.

She said the latter move has been welcomed by staff, some of which have health conditions that could put them at risk.

During the lockdown, Schneider and her staff worked from home, answering e-mail to the library, attending online training and presenting virtual programs that will continue at this time.

To make up for canceled meetings of the library’s cooking club, Schneider has been presenting short cooking demonstrations on the library’s Facebook page, with the next one to air live at noon June 30.

And Kim Harless, the library’s educational programs director, has used the page to present her weekly story hours, though she admitted they run somewhat under an hour since they don’t include a snack time.

Harless said in addition to viewing them, children may participate by videoconference.

“The kids are excited to see each other. I think that’s a big thing – getting to see each other,” she said.

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