From the Estill County Public Library
As you have probably already heard, the Estill County Public Library board of directors voted to move to Phase III of the library’s re-opening plan on Monday, October 26th, at 9:00 a.m. Phase III reopening allows for limited in-person services at the new 184 Broadway location, with safety precautions in place for both customers and staff. We will share more about that later, but thought this would also be the perfect opportunity to catch everyone up on what has been happening with the library over the past several months.
Estill County Public Library began doing curb service and home deliveries on March 16, after the Covid-19 Pandemic closed most churches, schools, government offices, and many businesses to face-to-face services. The public health emergency coincided with the library’s move from Main Street to the newly renovated building on Broadway, but fortunately the library never fully shut down operations, either for the move, or because of the pandemic. Rather, local library staff members were able to continue serving the public safely by initiating safety protocols for curbside service and home delivery.
Beginning that first week, some members of the staff worked remotely from home, and some worked at the Main Street building to answer the phone, to assist with filling out Census forms, to check out and renew books and movies, to do copies and faxes, to offer public Wi-Fi from the parking lot, and to perform notary services through the front doors of the old building. Staff members were also able to offer limited computer access from the library’s front foyer. The remainder of the staff began moving library furnishings, along with the book collection, into the new building and getting everything organized and arranged.
As we continued to serve the public and to move to Broadway, there were several delays in the process. Because of the pandemic, end-panels for the new bookshelves took from three to five months to be manufactured, delivered, and installed, and the library still awaits delivery of canopy tops for most of the shelving in the children’s area and in the main stacks as well.
The biggest delay in moving library operations from the old building to the new one has involved technology. Although network cabling was in place in the spring, telephone and fiber internet did not get connected at the Broadway building until mid-to-late summer. During that time, some staff continued operating from the Main Street building, where curbside services were still available. Other staff did virtual programming, either from home, or at the Broadway location, using the Bookmobile’s Wi-Fi hotspot for limited Internet.
Even though the bookmobile has not resumed its regular routes, Sherri Jenkins has been using the library’s small outreach vehicle to make contactless home book deliveries to anyone who has requested that service. Sherri has also made a point of reaching out to her regular bookmobile patrons to check on them and to make sure that they have plenty of reading materials, though not all are comfortable with resuming services with us at this time.
With the move to the new building, the library has gone from having one meeting room on Main Street to having four meeting rooms of varying sizes that will be available for public meetings once restrictions are lifted. Meanwhile, the largest meeting room on the lower level of the new building has already been used several times for public meetings, and can be booked by calling the library to reserve the space. There is still a 10-person limit on public gatherings, and all meeting attendees must follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks while inside the building. The smaller meeting rooms on the upper level are currently being used to quarantine returned library materials, and are not yet available for reservations. No water fountains or restrooms are available for public use at this time.
As with most other public libraries around the region and state, Estill County will continue providing virtual programs for the foreseeable future. The library currently uses Facebook Live, WebEx, or Zoom for virtual meetings and events, and can facilitate Zoom meetings for any public group or civic organization that wishes to meet virtually. Irvine-Ravenna Kiwanis conducts bi-weekly meetings via the library Zoom account, and other clubs are encouraged to do so as well. This service is offered to the community in order to encourage safe meetings, and there is no cost to the groups or clubs.
The 2020 Summer Reading Program was conducted virtually this year, as are the bi-weekly story times, and Crafternoon programs, adult book club, Grow with Google workshops, Poetry Challenges, and this summer’s Pickin’ in the Park concerts. The library is planning several other virtual events in the near future, including online book discussions, author events, Escape Room experiences, and other family-friendly programming. We have also conducted two outdoor Story Stroll literacy experiences, and are planning another for Halloween, weather permitting.
When the library opens to limited face-to-face services on Monday, staff asks that no more than ten persons be inside the building at a time. Staff would also like to ask customers to adhere to the following guidelines:
Please reserve the 9 to 10 o’clock hour each day for senior citizens or other patrons with health issues so that they can visit the library safely.
If you have a serious health issue, please consider using our curbside or home delivery services instead of coming inside the building.
If you plan on visiting the library, please consider calling ahead to make sure that you can enter the building in a timely manner.
Please be sure to wear face masks over nose and mouth while inside the building or while waiting at the doors; there will be a staff person in place to admit you and masks are required.
Please practice social distancing with those outside your household, remaining at least six feet from all others, including library staff.
Please use hand sanitizer upon entering; hand sanitizer stations are available at entrance and exit.
Please make your visits to the library brief, in order to limit exposure with other library visitors and staff.
If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, please remain at home instead of trying to enter the building. We will gladly bring our contactless services to you.
Only telephone services will be available between 1:00 and 2:30 each day so that staff can clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces, safely quarantine returned items, and restock cleaning supplies.
The library is currently open from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, with no evening or weekend hours at this time.
Please be patient with us as we do our best to continue to provide library services while keeping you (and ourselves) safe.
We look forward to serving you!