SIDNEY — After four months of being closed, both staff and patrons were excited to have the doors of Amos Memorial Library open again.
“I couldn’t wait to get back the whole time they were closed,” Jeanie Thoma said. “I was ready to be first in line; I couldn’t wait.”
Thoma, one of the first patrons at the library Monday morning, had a stack of books she was checking out to read. According to Executive Director Suzanne Cline, one of the reasons patrons are excited to get back inside the library is because they like to select the books themselves.
“It’s everybody’s personal choice of reading materials. We did try the curbside, and we did have a lot of people who came for the curbside, but we’re hoping that people come back,” Cline said. “We love our library. It’s such a beautiful building. It’s a shame to not have people in it.”
As patrons return to Amos Memorial, they will find things to be different in order to ensure social distancing. Study and meeting rooms have been closed for the time being, much of the seating offered at the library has been removed, patrons are limited to 30 minutes of computer use each day, and patrons are asked to keep their visit to the library limited to 30 minutes. While library staff members are required to wear masks, patrons are encouraged to wear masks, though it is not required.
“Hopefully people understand. We just want people to know we’re trying to keep them safe, as well as our staff safe. Everybody’s a little on edge these days about all of it, so we’re trying to do our part to make sure we’re being responsible,” Cline said.
Another requirement is that children younger than the age of 16 be accompanied by an adult when visiting the library.
“We encourage children to be in the library, but we do ask that parents come in with them right now. A lot of times we have a large group of children in the libraries, and that’s great, but with the 10 person gathering rule, we do have limits on some of the spaces of how many people can be in at a time. We just want it to be fair, so everyone who wants to come in can come in,” Cline said.
Despite the new policies in place, Cline said, the staff is ready to have patrons back and offer as many services as they can and that patrons are ready to return to the library.
“We’ve had a lot of people waiting and just really wanting to come back. We offer our downloads and things online, but it’s not quite the same, so we’re glad to be able to have people come back in,” Cline said.
Whether or not the new policies in place are short-term or long-term depends on how the ongoing pandemic develops, if and when the 10 person gathering limit is lifted and what case numbers look like. Currently, Amos Memorial is keeping an eye out to see what other libraries are doing in addition to looking at state and local recommendations.
“We’re kind of doing things in phases. We don’t have the meeting rooms open right now, so that’s another phase. We hope to be able to bring furniture back in and let people stay longer [as part of] the next phase, and future phases would be programming and meeting room space,” Cline said. “I hope by the end of August and September, we can get back to programming, but that will all depend on how things go.”
While in-person programming has been put on hold, Amos Memorial still is putting on its summer reading program, and patrons can participate online. In addition to virtual programs, Amos Memorial hosts virtual storytimes, and Cline said they’re looking into starting a virtual trivia contest for adults.
“We’re just trying new things. It’ll be interesting, and I’d like to continue some of them even when things get back to normal,” Cline said.
For more information on Shelby County Libraries reopening, patrons can contact their local library. Curbside service still is being offered at all locations.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.