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Library introduces phased reopening plan

T-R photo by Anna Shearer The Marshalltown Public Library displays closed signs on Thursday. Though the Marshalltown Public Library building is closed, staff are working hard to serve the community.

The Marshalltown Public Library is beginning a plan to open its doors to the public again. According to Sarah Rosenblum, director of the Marshalltown Public Library, the Library Board has made a phased plan.

To begin with, the library will start curbside pickup June 3. The community will be able to request books they would like to rent or let the staff pick some titles in a favorite genre. The library will then notify the person when the books are ready to be picked up and bring the books out to their car.

Rosenblum said people are welcome to return books and other rentals to the outdoor drop boxes at this time, though there are no fines being accrued. Staff will let the returned items sit for 72 hours to protect against the spread of the virus.

The next step is a limited reopening of the library, though timing is dependent on the state of the pandemic.

“The next phase will be limited use of the building by the public,” Rosenblum said.

There is no exact date for when this will happen, as she wants to ensure no one’s health is at risk.

While the building may not be open to the community, staff have continued to work hard to offer resources while keeping everyone safe.

One addition the library will make is installing automated hand sanitizer machines at entrances, which they are working with a local company to accomplish.

Staff will wear masks and stand behind Plexiglass when possible. The public is also encouraged to don masks.

Though there will be physical distancing, staff will continue to serve the community with enthusiasm.

“We’ll be smiling behind our masks,” Rosenblum said.

She said they will also have to enforce temporary reductions on the number of people.

“Sadly, we can’t encourage a lot of socializing,” Rosenblum said.

There will be no toys or games available, and they ask people to limit their time in the library.

Rosenblum said they have cultivated an environment for people to come and spend a few hours while connecting with others. Unfortunately, this cannot happen for the time being.

She wants people to understand that while smaller libraries may be able to offer appointments to the public right now, it is not feasible for the size of the Marshalltown Public Library. They serve many more people, making it impossible to allow people to come in individually.

Despite these changes, exciting things are happening at the library.

The summer reading program, a favorite of many children, will be available online.

“We’re trying to keep some sense of normalcy for our kids,” Rosenblum said.

The library may also partner with schools to distribute the grab and go lunches.

Rosenblum said all the online resources are still available and have been very popular. People can find out how to enjoy many eBooks and eAudioBooks for free, along with movies and TV shows by going to the library’s website.

The library’s Facebook page is also a great resource. While staff are not available to offer suggestions in person, people can use the library’s new staff picks program. Staff members share great books they have been reading with an explanation of why they recommend them.

Rosenblum said library staff would like to hear from the public during this time of transition.

“Certainly we want feedback from the community,” she said.

Rosenblum also wants to thank the community for the support during this time. She said she has received kind notes, and many have said they miss the library.

Rosenblum believes the community is strong enough to weather this difficult time and come out just as cohesive.

“The collaboration and volunteers in this community astound me even after eight and a half years,” she said.

For those who would like to help the library buy materials and continue offering many services, the library will be sending Friends of the Library membership renewal reminders.

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Contact Anna Shearer at

ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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