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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.

Four Different Stories on Libraries Reopening in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, Columbus

As some Ohio libraries re-open, others are scaling back or reversing their plans in the face of an increasing number of coronavirus cases.

The Akron-Summit County Public Library was planning to reopen July 20 – until Gov. DeWine announced that Summit County had moved to Level 3 on the coronavirus risk scale. That prompted a decision to delay the re-opening a week, to provide time to install more safety measures – and all of that could change as library officials monitor the latest news on the disease.

Curbside in Cleveland
Lexy Kmiecik from the Cleveland Public Library system says they started phasing-in curb service a month ago, but right now they have no plans to reopen their buildings to the public.

“We can’t make a mistake when lives are at stake. So no, there is no date set in stone at this time – and I know that’s the big burning question out there.”

Kmiecik adds that they've also started a texting program for curbside service: patrons can locate the branch’s unique code at cpl.org and then text 216-208-4384, and items will be brought out to the curb.

Open in Cuyahoga
The Cuyahoga County Public Library system did reopen its buildings last week with social distancing measures in place. Spokeswoman Hallie Rich says they’ll be monitoring Cuyahoga County’s coronavirus case numbers, which threaten to move the county to Level 4 alert -- the highest on the state’s risk map.

“If we need to take action to pull back, we’d be prepared to do that. And that might look like a return to curbside, drive-thru service. If things got really bad, it might have to look like a closer again. We are prepared to assess the threats, assess what’s going on in our local communities, and make decisions as we need to.”

Rich adds that as a safety precaution, they have started quarantining materials: anything returned to the library is being quarantined for 72 hours, based on a Battelle study of how long the coronavirus can live on such items.

Youngstown opens as Columbus closes
The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County is opening four of its branches today for limited in-person services, including computer and Internet access and printing services. Everyone who comes in must wear a mask. Current plans call for reopening additional branches with more services in early August.

And in Columbus, the Metropolitan Library system reopened starting last month. But Franklin County’s increasing case count has led officials there to reverse course: libraries have reverted to only offering curbside pickup, digital resources, and staff help over the phone.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.