CUMMING, GA — Beginning next week, all branches of Forsyth County Public Library will expand regular hours. Libraries will be open on Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Forsyth County Public Library branches had reopened to the public on June 15 following a two-month closure for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wear a Mask & Practice Social Distancing
“We are pleased to be able to add more hours just in time for the start of a new school year as we expect students will want to access the library at a variety of times, particularly in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends,” Library Director Anna Lyle said.
The additional hours are intended to give students and other patrons more opportunities to browse for study or pleasure reading materials and check them out for use at home.
All library patrons are encouraged to continue wearing masks in library buildings, practicing social distancing, and limiting visits to 30 minutes or less.
“Our staff will continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” Lyle said. “We’ll also continue monitoring and limiting the number of patrons admitted to the library.”
Placement of seating, tables, and computer areas continue to promote social distancing between patrons and discourage gathering. Study rooms, conference rooms, and meeting rooms remain closed.
Curbside Pickup Service
“Our Contact-Free Curbside Pickup services will continue for patrons at risk for severe illness and for those with personal circumstances that make coming inside the library difficult,” Lyle said. “Available appointments for pickups will vary by branch.”
Some patrons using the Contact-Free Curbside Pickup service may qualify for Mailbox Books, a free service that delivers books and other materials via postal mail.
Patrons enrolled in Mailbox Books may select their own materials or have a librarian select materials based on their preferences. To learn more or to check eligibility requirements, contact the FCPL Mailbox Books service at 678-513-9365.
Quarantine for Returned Books & Materials
Books and other materials returned to the library will continue to be quarantined for at least three days.
“Expert advice from the REALM (Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) Project from OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle, tells us that time is the most effective disinfectant for books and other library materials,” Lyle said
Patrons should expect that items they return will stay on their account for several days while they are quarantined. Items held in quarantine are not considered overdue and fines will not accrue.
eLibrary Services Available at Home
eLibrary services are free to all patrons and can be accessed in the library or remotely by logging in with a Forsyth County Public Library card account.
All students and teachers enrolled in or employed by an educational institution in Forsyth County are eligible for a free library card. Eligibility requirements and an online application for a library card are posted on the library’s website.
“FCPL offers thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, and other online services such as research databases and free, one-on-one homework help from Tutor.com,” Lyle said.
Virtual Programs Continue
“We all miss having our patrons visit the library for in-person programming, but we will continue to offer virtual programs for the foreseeable future,” Lyle said.
Patrons may continue to enjoy such online programs as Baby & Me, book talks for teens and adults, crafting events, book clubs, writing workshops, and author talks. Other popular programs may be presented in new formats. For example, Online Storytime will be presented live via GoToWebinar and as a pre-recorded program on YouTube beginning in August.
Libraries Help Patrons Stay Connected
Earlier this spring, libraries across Georgia adjusted their Wi-Fi networks to allow patrons to connect to the internet from the parking lots. Those networks were widely used by students to access their virtual learning programs, as well as by adults connecting to career and work-related services.
“Many students and adults in our community depend on the library for internet access,” Lyle said. “Wi-Fi will continue to be available to patrons in their vehicles in our parking lots from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including weekends.”
Library staff also remain committed to serving patrons and helping them access all available library services.
Patrons inside the library are encouraged to visit the Ask Us desk for help finding materials or using library resources. Patrons at home may call 770-781-9840, use the Ask a Librarian service, or send messages via Facebook and Instagram for assistance. Now that staff are available by phone or in-person 7 days/week, the Live Chat service launched during the library’s closure in March and April will be discontinued on July 24.
For more information regarding online materials, services, or programs, and to check current operating hours, visit www.forsythpl.org.
This article originally appeared on the Cumming Patch