The Warren County Public Library begins its reopening process Monday with the Bob Kirby and Smiths Grove branches opening their doors for the first time since closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both branches will be open with limited capacity. Bob Kirby, 175 Iron Skillet Court, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. It will offer curbside service from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The Smiths Grove Branch, 115 Second St. in Smiths Grove, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
The Main Branch on State Street in Bowling Green, which is currently being renovated, will only offer curbside service Mondays through Fridays, while Graham Drive Community Library will offer curbside service on Wednesdays.
“We have missed our patrons, our friends that we are used to seeing every day,” WCPL Director Lisa Rice said. “We are very excited to be able to open even with limited hours and limited services.”
Both buildings will operate at 33 percent capacity, with 40 patrons allowed in the Bob Kirby Branch at one time and 15 allowed in the Smiths Grove Branch.
Patrons are asked to limit their time in the building to 30 minutes to check out materials, with computer time limited to one hour a day. Rice said the staff will maintain strict cleaning procedures, with a professional cleaning crew coming in every morning to clean and disinfect. The staff will then clean and disinfect regularly throughout the day, including all high-touch areas.
WCPL asks patrons to adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including wearing face masks.
The reopening of the Bob Kirby and Smiths Grove locations comes on the heels of WCPL offering curbside service for about a month.
“It’s been a great service both for our staff to be back in the building ... for us to be able to construct a safe method for having people back in the building and practice those methods,” Rice said. “It’s also been great for our patrons. We have done about 35-40 percent of our regular circulation through curbside service.
“We know that we’re able to meet some of our demand at least for materials, so that has been really great giving us the opportunity to do that.”
Rice said that because of that success, curbside will continue for the foreseeable future.
“They are still some that are in the high-risk categories and there are some that I think have really appreciated the service in general,” Rice said. “I don’t see curbside service going away, maybe ever.”
In addition to curbside services, WCPL will continue partnerships this summer with the Boys and Girls Club and Warren County Parks and Recreation, through which they have provided some materials to deliver with the food delivery services already in place with both entities.
“It was a safe way for us to make available some activities for the community and those partnerships will continue into the future,” Rice said. “With Graham being as small of a branch as it is we aren’t able to open that one right now, but with the Boys and Girls Club we can still reach a large number in that community.”
WCPL will also give amnesty to all charges, erasing any fees that anyone owed before the pandemic began in March.
“Everybody is starting with a clean slate at the library,” Rice said. “We don’t want any barriers to anyone coming back to us. We know people will need our services more than ever.”
Although the Bob Kirby and Smiths Grove branches will be open, no face-to-face programming normally offered will happen for a while, according to Rice.
“The governor has said at the end of June if the numbers keep looking good he will allow groups of 50 to gather,” Rice said. “We will again be working with our partners at the parks and Boys and Girls Club and venues around the county that we have worked with in the past to perhaps put together some programming in those facilities.”