This article was published in the May 5, 2020 issue of the News & Tribune. To read the article in its original form on the News & Tribune website, please click here.

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Libraries in Clark and Floyd counties continue to serve the community outside the walls of their buildings during temporary closures.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, public libraries in Southern Indiana are encouraging their patrons to use a variety of digital resources, and staff are planning virtual programs. Meanwhile, they are preparing plans for a safe reopening.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s five-stage reopening plan for Indiana allows for the opening of public libraries starting this week, but for local libraries, the opening will be gradual. When they do open again to the public, patrons will see many changes as the libraries implement safety precautions.

During the closures, community members have 24/7 access to WiFi from the parking lots of local libraries, including the Floyd County Library, Jeffersonville Township Public Library and Charlestown Clark County Public Library.

JEFFERSONVILLE LIBRARY

Lori Morgan, acting director of the Jeffersonville Township Public Library, said the library plans to open curbside service and book drops May 11, and on May 26, library staff will be available to provide public access to copy and fax machines. However, the Jeffersonville and Clarksville branches will probably be closed to the public throughout the month.

They are looking at June 15 for a possible opening date for the public, but it is still uncertain, according to Morgan. The library might first open for a “grab-and-go” phase, and certain services such as computers and the genealogy room would likely be open for appointment only at first, she said.

“We just want it safe for the public and safe for the staff,” Morgan said. “That’s why we’re going in phases.”

She emphasizes that patrons can continue to download ebooks, audiobooks, music and movies through platforms such as Hoopla, Libby, Flipster and Freegal.

The library has increased the amount of borrows on Libby from 10 to 15. Those with questions about services can reach out to the library through Facebook or a chat box on the website, Morgan said.

“We feel we are essential, and we can still provide services to you, even though it might not be face-to-face right now,” she said. “We still offer the different databases — we offer downloadable [resources], we have magazines, we have books, we have music. You can also try a new language through Mango and Rosetta Stone.”

The library is also preparing to launch virtual programs such as story time, Morgan said. Activities such as book club or crafts will likely occur over Zoom to allow people to interact, and the library’s summer reading programming will probably be conducted virtually this year.

She has been seeing people outside the library using the WiFi, including students completing assignments. The library offers a variety of educational services for students while they are learning from home, she said, and librarians have received requests from students seeking resources to help with homework.