SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners this week said they wanted to see local libraries reopen to the public.
Worcester County Library branches closed to the public, like most places, in March as a result of COVID-19 concerns. The commissioners this week voted unanimously to have the library system come up with a reopening plan.
“I would like to see our libraries get put back into service,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.
At the close of Wednesday’s meeting Bunting brought up the issue of opening libraries.
“Right now we can go to a restaurant, we can take our mask off, we can eat,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of calls from people about our library system in Worcester County. … I’d like to see people be able to go in, with their mask, actually look at the shelves, get their books, social distance and use the computers.”
Currently, library patrons are able to make appointments to go in and use computers, copy machines or to register for library cards. There is also a “library to go” program through which patrons can request books and schedule a time to pick them up in a contact-free manner.
When contacted regarding the commissioners’ comments, Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck stressed that library branches were open, just not in the traditional manner.
“We were among one of the first systems in Maryland to reopen,” she said. “Our patrons have been very considerate with our new procedures and mask requirement and it has been wonderful to welcome them back into the branches.”
She said library officials had been talking about how to safely reopen since March and as a result had implemented the appointment system and the “library to go” program. Staff also create weekly programs for children and families to pick up. The library has also expanded digital resources through www.WorcesterLibrary.org.
“Our next step is to allow ‘browsing by appointment,’” Ranck said. “The library board and staff are tracking data and consulting with local health officials to continue our reopening efforts. The library is still here for everyone, just in a different way.”
The last library branch to reopen to the public under the appointment model was in Ocean City on Sept. 14. Ocean Pines and Pocomoke branches opened in late July by appointment followed by Berlin and Snow Hill branches.