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Libraries to reopen with limited hours

WARREN — The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system will reopen Monday with limited in-person services and operating hours.

Jim Wilkins, library director, said the six libraries in the system will begin implementing a phased reopening plan based on guidelines from the state and federal governments and health officials.

“We are reopening with enhanced protocols in place to support the health and safety of our customers and staff. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the library in the safest manner we can,” Wilkins said.

He said during the first phase, all libraries will operate on reduced hours, with the first hour of each day reserved for seniors and those who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The libraries in Brookfield, Cortland, Howland, Liberty and Warren will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and the Lordstown Library will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wilkins said the hour from 11 a.m. to noon each day is reserved for library customers at higher risk for severe illness, including adults age 65 and older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions. Dedicating the first hour each day for more vulnerable customers will offer them an opportunity to visit the library in a less-crowded environment.

He said reducing the number of hours the libraries are open will allow the system to operate with fewer staff hours.

The library system is recalling 32 of the 97 staff members who were furloughed at the beginning of May. Wilkins said the decision is part of an effort to cut operating costs in anticipation of a projected decrease in future state funding.

The adjusted hours will also give staff more time to shelve books and other materials safely and sanitize library materials and public areas. All books, DVDs and other library materials that are borrowed and then returned will be quarantined for at least 72 hours and then cleaned and sanitized prior to being put back on library shelves.

Other guidelines and changes include:

• Customers are asked to wear a face covering while inside the library.

• Children age 12 and younger must have an adult with them at all times.

• Library staff will be required to wear face masks and participate in a daily health assessment.

• Customers will be able to visit the library to pick out books and other items but leisure reading or studying at the library will be discouraged during the first phase.

• Most tables and chairs are temporarily being removed from each library.

• No computers will be available for public use at the Warren library during the initial phase.

• A limited number of public computers will be available at other W-TCPL locations to begin the reopening phase.

• The Bookmobile and other outreach services remain suspended at this time.

• Homebound Library Service will transition from in-person visits by library staff to by-mail only delivery for current customers.

• No library meeting rooms will be available for public use through the end of the year, and all in-library programming and events are canceled.

• The Local History and Genealogy Center in the Warren library will remain closed

• Plexiglass protective barriers installed at the checkout desks and other social-distancing measures are being put in place at each library.

“The well-being of our community continues to be our top priority. We believe by putting these enhanced protocols in place, we can support the safety of staff and customers and the safe handling of library books, videos, and other materials customers borrow from the library,” Wilkins said.

During the initial reopening phase, some library services that require close person-to-person interaction or present concerns about maintaining sanitized surfaces will not be offered.

Cheryl Bush, marketing and public relations manager, said while library officials look forward to welcoming back patrons, the library had to order additional cleaning and disinfecting supplies, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves for library staff, and also ordered and installed the protective barriers at all checkout counters as part of social-distancing measures.

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