WEST JEFFERSON — Appalachian Regional Library, with public libraries in Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties opened to the public on Monday, June 15, with limited services, reduced hours and reduced building capacities.
The Ashe County Public Library’s hours of operation will be Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The first hour of service each day is currently being reserved for people most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
All patrons are allowed into the library for one visit per day for a maximum stay of one hour. Those who are sick are asked to remain at home and not make any visits to the library. Upon arrival, a greeter will present the guidelines and safety precautions to patrons.
It is requested that everyone entering the library abides by the three Ws: wearing a face covering, washing their hands and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
Other notable differences in library operations include social distancing markers intended to help library users maintain a safe distance from others and the removal of all seating areas.
Marna Napoleon, youth services specialist said it has been different adjusting to the new protocols and appearance of the library.
“It’s just really weird. When it first started and we took all the toys out, it was awful,” Napolean said.
Sneeze guards were also installed at all of the reference and check out desks, which were made by a volunteer.
There will be no in-person programs or meetings held in the library for the foreseeable future and in lieu of in-house events, all summer learning will take place online. Weekly activity kits will be available for pickup while supplies last.
The library will be offering check-out of materials either chosen from shelves or picked up as holds. Curbside pickup of materials continues to be offered to those who wish to continue utilizing this service.
There will also be limited use of adult computers with remote computer assistance and fewer computers will be available to accommodate social distancing.
No toys or games will be available and there will be no periodicals available for browsing.
Adult Services Librarian Laura McPherson said the library plans to have masks available within the next few weeks to provide to those who do not have one.
McPherson said at this time the library is not accepting any donations of books, DVDS, toys, etc. because they currently do not have volunteers or the space necessary to process donations.
According to McPherson, they are unable to resume to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program this year. Some suggested alternatives for those who need VITA services are the Ashe Senior Center or local banks.
Per usual, there is not a limit on the number of books patrons can check out at one time. However, McPherson said they are quarantining books that are returned or books that come by transit from other libraries for 48 hours.
According to McPherson, the Centers for Disease Control and the Institute of Museum and Library Services has provided guidance concerning sanitization of reading materials. Per CDC and IMLS, was a recommended quarantine time of 24 hours for books, but McPherson said the library decided to be extra cautious and extended it to 48 hours.
Youth Services Library Ashlin Edmisten said they recently held an art contest where children submitted their art to be chosen as the theme of the week for summer learning activity kits.
Each kit has a theme and contains a STEAM activity, a craft, a math activity, builder’s challenge and a description of the art displayed on the front of the bag.
Edmisten said the activity kits are available for pickup but are on a first-come first serve basis while supplies lasts. She said parents have been pleased with the summer learning activity kits because it gives their child something to keep them busy throughout the week.
“That was sort of the goal, was to have something that would keep them entertained and engaged through the entire week,” Edmisten said.
For more information about Ashe County Public Library and their current services or to access all summer learning material, visit the website at www.arlibrary.org/ashe. Additional information is also available on the Facebook page @Ashe County Public Library or by calling (336) 846-2041.