Copperas Cove Public Library reopens, takes precautions, requires masks
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Public Library resumed offering curbside service to patrons Monday morning, as well as opening up limited access to its computers.
The library is resuming normal hours, so residents were waiting outside beginning at 9 a.m., waiting for the chance to return their books and pick up their next round of reading.
Inside the library, the public access computers are set up with gaps in between to comply with social distancing. Patrons will still have access to the scanners and printers in addition to internet access.
“There’s just so much anymore you have to have a computer for,” Library Director Kevin Marsh told Mayor Bradi Diaz when she visited Monday morning. “You can’t apply for a city of Copperas Cove job without internet access, so job applications, job searching, and usually that’s about a quarter of our computer use. This week, I expect it to be a lot more than a quarter.”
The library has blocked off patron access to most of the shelves beyond the computers. They are also utilizing the library’s genealogy station and the Teamwork Room’s computer, which usually drives the library’s 3-D printer, to act as computer stations for residents.
Library staff use sanitizing wipes on each book when it is returned. In case someone has sneezed on the pages, the library holds the returned books for at least a day before recirculating, in compliance with CDC guidelines which state that 24-hours is enough time for the virus to no longer be on paper, Marsh said.
The library had previously offered curbside service when city offices closed to the public.
“It was pretty popular,” Marsh said. “Not as much traffic as we would normally have with walking in and browsing the collection, but it was again very highly valued by the people who were using it, especially folks who were home with kids, just folks who were stuck at home; so it was of great value to the folks who were making use of it. Then, we decided it was getting too risky, we wanted to shut it down for a while. Now, we’re seeing the growth of cases has kind of slowed, and we’re seeing we’re not getting a big local outbreak, and the decision was made, again in compliance with the Governor’s direction- this is something we can reopen.”
Marsh added that if this goes well, and the number of confirmed cases in the city stay low, the library will reevaluate the program in a few weeks.
The computers are not open to children under 10 years of age or people who want to watch videos or play games. The computers are for schoolwork, business and general use like job applications or paying bills and are available on a first come, first served basis.
Some residents have also taken advantage of the library’s WiFi from the parking lot while the library has been closed.
Mayor Bradi Diaz expressed support for the library.
“I’m really proud of all the efforts that Kevin and his staff have done to try to stay connected with the community,” Diaz said. “The library is something that is truly utilized, and it kind of saddens your heart to have to cut those services off because of the environment that we’re in, and it makes us really happy that this is something that we’re able to open up as safely as we can to the community.”
With the distance learning efforts for students, the library is also a place for parents to use to get tools needed to help their child, Diaz added.
“[We’re] slowly opening back up, getting ourselves back to normal, help the citizens feel a little more comfortable in this trying, tumultuous time, so it feels good to be able to provide that again,” Diaz said.
The Friends of the Library invested in a supply of disposable surgical masks for patrons to purchase for $1 if they do not have their own face covering. The library is requiring masks for people to enter the building, as per CDC recommendations regarding social distancing and face mask use.
The library’s online catalog of books has remained available throughout this period. Patrons can reserve a book at https://copperascove.biblionix.com/catalog/ or by calling the library at 254-547-3826.
The library is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.