Local libraries closing buildings to the public, citing COVID-19 restrictions

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The Augusta County Public Library and Staunton Public Library will close their facilities and provide curbside services effective Wednesday, Dec. 16.

This rollback follows the lead of libraries around the Commonwealth that have already scaled back services as the pandemic continues.

Per a release, after attending a recent Augusta Health update on the local COVID-19 situation, the two systems’ library directors came to the conclusion that reverting to curbside service was the safest option.

“After hearing about the positivity rates and hospital capacity, we began to seriously discuss whether we were sending the right message to our communities by remaining open,” Staunton Public Library Director Sarah Skrobis said.

The word we’re getting from Augusta Health paints a slightly different picture than what is related there. An update today has overall hospital census in the 60-65 percent of capacity range, per a hospital spokesperson.

Not to quibble there, just trying to be accurate in reporting.

The release also noted that Gov. Ralph Northam’s latest announcement of new restrictions was a contributing factor to the libraries deciding to take action.

“Gov. Northam encouraged people to stay home if they didn’t need to be out. By relying on curbside service, we can more safely serve patrons while also helping to limit community spread,” Augusta County Library Director Diantha McCauley said.

So, it was not so much the “restrictions” talked up by the governor, the only new ones being a toothless midnight to 5 a.m. curfew and a suggestion to limit the size of social gatherings from 25 to 10, as his encouragement to stay home if you don’t need to be out.

Again, not quibbling, just being accurate.

Both library systems will continue with their normal operating hours through close of day Tuesday. Starting Wednesday morning, librarians will offer reference and reader services by phone and online and residents can pick up their arrived holds using contactless drop-in curbside service.

Each library will also offer modified mobile printing, faxing, and simple copy services using curbside procedures. The Augusta County Library will also be providing a limited number of laptops and Chromebooks to checkout and use in the Fishersville library parking lot. Please contact each library for details.

To utilize curbside pick-up, patrons can use the library catalog at www.ValleyLibraries.org to browse and place holds. Once they receive an arrived holds notice, patrons may drop by their local library to pick up materials by following the local procedures. Anyone experiencing difficulty with their account or the catalog is asked to contact their local library for assistance.

The Augusta County Library will offer curbside pick-up service Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m . to 4 p.m.

Staunton Public Library will offer drop-in curbside pick-up service Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and FridaySaturday, 12:30-4 p.m.

For more information, visit www.StauntonLibrary.org or call 540.332.3902.

Story by Chris Graham


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