Library open again, make use of this public entity

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library is open again after being closed for in-person services for over a year, leaving many local residents without vital resources.
For many Elizabethton and Carter County residents, the library is an indispensable resource, particularly for those without online access.
The re-opening process began earlier this spring with the return of browsing for books, although it was by appointment. Then, in May library patrons could browse without an appointment, but its open hours were limited.
However, June 1, the library returned to its normal hours and normal capacity, with the exception of in-house programming. Among the services that have returned are faxing, printing, scanning, computer use, reference services, readers advisory, checkouts, renewals, and browsing. Computer appointments are no longer needed, and computer time is back to three hours per day.
Still available are the contactless curbside pick-up services, weekly make-and-take craft bags for children and teens in addition to a limited supply of lunch and breakfast.
The curbside pickup service can be used to pick up library materials, new library cards, printing, sending faxes, or picking up homeless bags.
Before COVID, the library provided summer reading programs for children, a safe, cool, comfortable place during the summer to stop in and read the newspaper or read a magazine article, to get help with ancestry questions, etc. Some of this still can be done.
There are many things to consider as libraries across the nation re-open. Safely lending books is just the beginning. Libraries are figuring out everything from how to remain welcoming spaces to how to respond to changing reading behavior.
Libraries are not just trying to figure out how to safely lend out books, but remaining community hubs where parents can bring their children for storytime, where people come to use the computer, and where community groups often meet.
All of this in a community, where only a third of the residents have had their COVID-19 vaccinations and where the vaccines are not given to children 12 and under. It means that books must still be sanitized, as well as reading areas, and computer stations.
Libraries had to learn how to operate during the pandemic, now they must learn how to operate in a post-pandemic work
The “new normal” has become one of the most overworked cliches of the past few months. No one knows what the new normal will look like, but for public libraries, we suspect the changes will be significant. One thing we are sure of: Many of us are glad our community libraries are reopening!

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