FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen McLean, Publicity Coordinator
Phone: 601-968-5805 | Fax: 601-968-5917
Jackson Hinds Library System Resumes Library Services with COVID-19 Precautions
JACKSON, MS – On Friday, May 29, 2020, the Jackson Hinds Library System Board of Trustees approved a four-stage master plan for resuming operations at the JHLS branch libraries. Because of the need for the staff to learn new techniques for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the libraries will reopen on a staggered schedule, which allows for a full day of hands-on training at each individual building.
Library Executive Director Patty Furr comments, “The coronavirus has given us a whole new set of challenges for our staff to face in order to provide library services in the safest way possible. The library system will reopen branches on a staggered schedule that allows staff to have a full day of hands-on training at their home branch based on the latest advice from local, state and federal health officials. They should be ready to open each library’s doors to the public on the following day with the confidence gained from having learned new procedures of doing their normal library work.”
The goal is to have the seven of the largest libraries open in the first month of June. Others will follow in late June and July. Eudora Welty Library in downtown Jackson will open its doors on Wednesday, June 3rd, Quisenberry Library in Clinton on Friday, June 5th, Willie Morris on Tuesday, June 8th, Medgar Evers on June 11th and Margaret Walker Alexander on June 16th. All hours at these branches will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
The Ella Bess Austin Library in Terry will open on June 23rd and the Raymond Public Library on June 25th, both on their regular schedules. Plans are being made to open the new modular library for the Beverly J. Brown Library in Byram that was relocated to a space behind the Byram City Hall. That facility will open to the public for the first time on Wednesday, July 1st. The newly renovated Fannie Lou Hamer Library will follow on July 8th. The schedules for opening these libraries and the smaller county libraries in Bolton, Edwards and Utica will be announced as soon as staffing and social distancing concerns can be addressed.
Two of the City of Jackson libraries will not be opening with the rest of the City of Jackson branches. The Richard Wright Library is waiting for needed HVAC repairs and plumbing work, while the Bolden Moore Library is closed due to a lack of cooling as well. Furr comments, “We hope that the City of Jackson, which owns these libraries, will schedule the repairs for these branches as soon as possible. We have so many customers that are looking forward to having these two neighborhood libraries repaired and open again sometime this summer.”
Furr asks that patrons keep in mind that not all areas of the libraries will be available at first. Due to social distancing concerns, customers will be able to access only about half of each library’s public computers, most of the book stacks, the circulation desk and the library restrooms. Other areas of the building such as the quiet reading areas with lounge furniture, study tables, print magazines and newspapers, and group study rooms will remain off limits until the virus threat recedes. The meeting rooms in most libraries will not be available to the public due to the difficulties with cleaning the areas and the 50-percent capacity rule in the recent Governor’s order.
In order to enter the library, customers will be required to wear masks, submit to a temperature check, use hand sanitizer and answer a short COVID-19 symptom questionnaire to make sure that public health and safety can be maintained. The library system will use fogging machines at many of the larger locations, and individualized procedures at other branches at the beginning of the day, as well as hourly wipe-downs of public service desks and computer areas to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
For those who do not feel safe returning to the inside of the library, a new text-based curbside pickup option will be available at Welty, Quisenberry, Willie Morris and Alexander libraries. Customers can use their phones or tablets to reserve books online, receive a text message when items are ready for pickup and contactless delivery right to their car. Special parking spaces will be available for curbside pickup customers much like other local restaurants have been using. This service is designed to give access to the library collections while limiting exposure to COVID-19. Furr comments, “We hope that many of our senior patrons who are more vulnerable to the virus will take advantage of this new text-based service, or order books by just calling their local library on the phone. Staff members will be standing by to help customers order items for curbside pickup at each of the libraries opening in July.
Of all of the services that we offer, we have had the most inquiries about using the public access computers at each library. Furr adds, “We know that many of our customers depend on our public access computers and fast internet bandwidth to look for employment and apply for jobs. With the huge numbers of persons recently unemployed needing to file unemployment claims and look for jobs, we know that demand will be very heavy at all of our locations.”
For more information, please call the library administrative offices at 601-968-5825, or your local library branch upon reopening. Library services are provided at no charge to City of Jackson and Hinds County residents with funding from the City of Jackson and the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.