The following was published as a Letter to the Editor in the July 15th edition of the Grant Tribune-Sentinel.
We know that the library’s closure to the public as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus has been an inconvenience to many in our community. The Hastings Memorial Library Board of Trustees and staff members have put much thought and research into determining what level of service the library is able to provide, while still prioritizing the safety of our staff and library patrons.
Many factors must be considered to reopen our library to the public. As part of their REALM (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) project, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently conducted testing on frequently used library materials. Their study concluded that the virus is undetectable on library materials after three days. This means every item that is checked out OR HANDLED must be quarantined for three days before it is available to use again.
In addition, our library building is older, essentially one huge room, and not particularly well-ventilated. These conditions are conducive to prolonged and widespread virus exposure if present. The use of masks could greatly reduce the risk of airborne exposure, but cannot legally be required to be worn by all patrons.
Taking these, and other, factors into consideration, the Board of Trustees decided at their July 8, 2020 board meeting that the library will remain closed to the public until August 19. This coincides with the planned start of the fall semester at Perkins County Schools. When our planned reopening date arrives, please expect temporary limited hours as well as guidelines and restrictions on usage and services as we do our best to keep everyone safe.
In the meantime, the library continues to offer Curbside Checkout and Curbside Copy and Print services, our digital library of eBooks and audiobooks, and virtual programming. Our Virtual Summer Reading Program is ongoing through the month of July and librarians are doing weekly storytimes and activities available on the library’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can find these by searching for Hastings Memorial Library. Information can also be found on our website http://libraries.ne.gov/grant . Additionally, our public Wi-Fi connection is available 24/7 outside the building. The password for this service is currently posted on the main entrance window. Staff members are working in the building and are available via telephone at (308) 352-4894 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org Monday through Friday 10 AM to 5 PM to assist with your requests and answer any questions you may have.
One of the best parts of the library experience is wandering the stacks and selecting the perfect books to take home and read. This is closely followed by the social interaction with librarians and other patrons. Know that as much as you miss the library, the library staff misses you as well. The Board of Trustees and staff appreciate your continued support and patience as we continue to navigate this unknown, unfamiliar territory.
Hastings Memorial Library Board of Trustees