Libraries to start welcoming public again

Staff at the Hulbert Community Library are staying busy with curbside deliveries, as well as readying the building for reopening on June 1. Working to gather materials are, from left: Cherokee Lowe, Pam Davis, and Kayle Rooster.

Branches of the Eastern Oklahoma Library System - including those in Cherokee County - are getting ready to reopen their doors to the public.

Beginning June 1, limited services will resume.

"We're really excited about that and looking forward to seeing you," said Robin Mooney, Tahlequah Public Library manager.

In Tahlequah, only 25 people at a time will be allowed in the building until otherwise noted. Patrons are encouraged to wear masks, and families are asked to stay together.

The only changes to hours at the Tahlequah library will have it closing an hour earlier Monday through Thursday. The first hour the library is open will be reserved for older people and those who are immunocompromised.

At Hulbert Community Library, the hours are unchanged, and a limited number of residents will be allowed in the building beginning June 1.

"It's first-come, first-served, and they may have to wait or let us do curbside delivery if there are more than 10 people," said Cherokee Lowe, branch manager. "Staff members are not looking forward to confronting patrons, but what can we do? We have to take precautions."

No volunteers are being used currently, and curbside delivery service will continue indefinitely.

"Curbside has been very popular and we have had several people tell us they really enjoy it," said Michelle Newton, TPL youth services coordinator.

The new EOLS mobile application allows patrons to search for items and place holds, which will be available for pickup inside the library or by curbside delivery.

"It's a great service. It's easy to use," said Mooney.

Although the computers will not be available until June 8, printing services are offered through the PrintOn application. Pages printed can be picked up in the library or by curbside. When the computer usage is available, it will be limited to encourage social distancing and cleanliness. For the first week, only four computers will be open at the Tahlequah branch, and patrons will be limited to 30 minutes each.

"We're hoping as you come in and out that you'll be considerate and allow time for other people to come in also," said Mooney.

All programs are online at this time, except for adult literacy classes.

"You can follow the virtual programming on Facebook," said Mooney. "We'd love to interact with you online."

One thing many look forward to each year is the Summer Reading Program.

"The Summer Reading Program is coming, but it will be a bit later than normal and a little bit different," said Mooney. "It will have a combination of online and hands-on elements."

All program presenters have been cancelled, and library staff are still working out the details.

"We are still waiting on a few things to fall into place before we can get rolling. I am hoping mid-June we can start," said Newton. "Right now, the plan is to have grab-and-go bags ready every Monday. These bags will be for children to adults. The bags will have packets of different activities, crafts, and a surprise or two."

Newton said they will also give away prizes for reading, but they are not sure how to do that yet.

One community member asked TPL on Facebook how library items, computers, and furniture will be sterilized. A staff member answered that they are planning on using a spray system like Emergency Management is using to clean its equipment.

"It's a lot of changes for us all, and I hope you'll be patient with us because it's new things for us, too," said Mooney.

Learn more

For branch location information and online services available, visit https://eols.org.

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