Jennifer Ranck

(Nov. 13, 2020) The Worcester County Public Library branches will expand services as per request by the Worcester County Commissioners. 

Since March, the libraries have been operating at a limited capacity to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and have not been open for browsing. 

According to Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library, all five library branches will have a trial “Grab and Go” service starting Monday, Nov. 16. Patrons can call the library to make an appointment to browse bookshelves.

During the commissioners meeting last Tuesday, County Commissioner Jim Bunting said he had received many calls from constituents regarding the library system. 

“I would like to see people be able to go in and social distance, wear their mask and actually look at the shelves, get their books, social distance and use the computers,” Bunting said. 

The motion to produce a plan to expand library services at the next meeting passed unanimously. 

Bunting added that the returned books could be left in the drop box and then cleaned before getting returned to the shelves. Since March, returns have been made at outdoor book drops and quarantined for a week. 

Following a recommendation from the Maryland Department of Health, the library branches will move to a 48-hour quarantine period for returned materials. 

According to a statement from the library, the branches will be available for browsing appointment Monday to Friday from 1-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“All visitors will be asked to wear a mask, sign a screening form and use hand sanitizer upon entry,” the statement reads. “The library is also asking visitors to refrain from reshelving items.”

Library staff can only assist patrons from a safe distance – six feet away. 

Patrons can also still make an appointment for computer use, copier access and library card registration at any branch location. These appointments are available Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for all branches and Saturdays 9:30-11:30 a.m. for Berlin, Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Pocomoke locations. 

Only a certain number of people are allowed in the building at a time. Computers and tables and disinfected after each use. 

The library reminded patrons that entering a public facility is at their own risk and staff cannot guarantee the cleanliness of materials and equipment since the library is a high-touch facility. 

The newly expanded services could be rescinded depending on the region’s coronavirus cases.

The branches are also offering Library-To-Go for patrons to schedule a pick-up time for materials. For programs, new kits are available for reservation every week. 

The story time program is via phone. Call 1-888-964-2628 to hear a children’s book by a librarian. 

The stories are updated every Wednesday.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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