By Doug Reynolds for The Island Eye News
The Charleston County Public Library is in the process of a phased re-opening of its branches, which were shut down March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 18, book drops started operating again at 16 of the library’s 17 locations – the Poe Library on Sullivan’s Island was the exception – giving patrons the opportunity to return books, DVDs and Blu-Rays. All fines incurred while the branches were closed have been waived through the month of June. The Library does not charge people who return printed books past their due date. Fines do apply to lost items and all other materials returned past the due date.
CCPL highly encourages patrons who still have materials to return to do so between May 18 and June 8 to allow the staff to quarantine the items. They also are asked not to return interlibrary loans, story time kits, telescopes, digital magnifiers, museum passes and book club kits to the book drops.
The Poe Library will be back in business June 8, when all CCPL locations are scheduled to start providing limited in-person services, including picking up books and other items placed on hold.
The limited re-opening may include amended hours. In-person programs and the use of meeting rooms will still be suspended, but video programs will continue online.
“CCPL is looking forward to a safe reopening of our locations in June. I know our physical buildings have been closed to the public for several weeks, and we have missed seeing our patrons in person,” said CCPL Executive Director Angela Craig. “Our phased reopening is to ensure that our beloved public and staff are safe as we re-acclimate to in-person services. We thank the public in advance for their patience and support while we offer modified hours and services.”
All items returned to the library will be quarantined for 72 hours. During the closure, CCPL issued more than 1,000 temporary e-cards so patrons without library cards could access all digital resources, including e-books, audiobooks, movies and music, and free access to all subscription based services. E-cards will be valid until June 30. More information will be released soon on instructions to transfer e-cards to permanent library cards.
During the closure, CCPL also continued operating its Wi-Fi to allow the public to access internet at 16 of its 17 branches – all but Folly Beach. Since March 16, an average of 1,000 people per week have connected to the Wi-Fi.
“This core service, which has helped bridge the digital divide for so many members of our community, will continue to operate between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at all our locations,” said Craig.
CCPL has shifted many of its resources to assisting the community in workforce development. A special task force is working to expand services and programs to help local residents find jobs, navigate the unemployment process, create a resume and much more. These efforts include a weekly workforce-related blog, a special section on our website featuring resources to workforce services, assistance for small businesses, resources for financial support, food resources, internet access information and more.
While the libraries have been closed, CCPL has continued serving the public through virtual online programs and presentations.
Nearly 200 programs presented by staff have been viewed more than 50,000 times. These free programs, which are available through the CCPL website and social media, include children’s story times, episodes of the award-winning podcast, Charleston Time Machine, staff book recommendations, Spanish language lessons, opera performances, educational resources, virtual field trips, art classes and book lists. New programs will continue to be available on our website and social media.
If you have a question for the library, you can connect with a librarian on CCPL’s website by chat, text or email or by leaving a phone message at 843-805-6930 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starting June 8, patrons will be able to call and speak directly to a staff member at their local library branch.