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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Cuyahoga County Public Library Branches Are Open To The Public Again

Cuyahoga County Public Library is opening all of its branches to the public starting Monday, with some restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Each of the library’s 27 branches is operating at 25 percent capacity. Branches also have removed some furniture and are limiting the number of public computers in use to allow for social distancing. Computers will be wiped down after each user.

Visitors are allowed to once again browse the stacks and check out materials, said CCPL Executive Director Tracey Strobel, but everyone must wear a mask.

“It’s very similar to a grocery store where people wander,” Strobel said. “The fact that we are putting hand sanitizer and encouraging handwashing and hand sanitation, as well as masks, we feel we’re doing our part to keep everything safe.”

Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours, and high-touch areas will be disinfected regularly, Strobel said.

Library programming is still suspended, Strobel said. Meeting rooms are not open to the public, she said, and are instead being used to quarantine returned materials.

About 4,000 people had visited CCPL branches across the system as of Monday afternoon, Strobel said.

“I heard reports this morning from branch managers who opened the doors to applause from waiting customers who were there bright and early,” Strobel said. “That was thrilling.”

CCPL branches are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The first hour of each day will be limited to vulnerable and high-risk patrons. Curbside and drive-thru service will continue.

The library is keeping an eye on communications from health officials in case new guidance calls for rolling back services again, Strobel said.

“It is in our minds and our conversations, just like I’m sure it is for other businesses or institutions,” Strobel said. “We will, of course, remain flexible and responsive to the current situation.”

Rolling back services and restricting access will be simpler now that the library has already closed and operated with only drive-thru and curbside options earlier the pandemic.

“We can really transition or toggle between each of the three modes as needed,” Strobel said, “but we definitely prefer to stay open.”

Curbside and drive-thru service are still available at select branches.

The library’s finances have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, Strobel said. A proposal to increase a levy for CCPL, proposed before the pandemic began, goes before County Council Tuesday.

“The fact that we’re going is not specific to the pandemic,” Strobel said. “But the pandemic has made our financial situation more dire because of the reduction in state funding.”

The proposal calls for renewal of the current 2.5-mill levy, plus a 1 mill increase. If approved by council, the measure would appear on ballots in November.

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