Opelika library reopens for patrons, limited restrictions in place

Library director Rosanna McGinnis shelves books in the children's section of the Lewis Cooper Jr. Library.

It’s been over a week since Opelika’s Lewis Cooper Jr. Library reopened its doors and so far, so good.

“We have between 75 to 100 people a day come through. It’s lower on Saturdays; we have about half that,” Director Rosanna McGinnis said.

The library is closed to the public on Sundays so the staff can disinfect and clean throughout the building.

The library was closed for a month and half, but patrons were still able to access e-books online and request physical books for pick up. McGinnis and her staff also began posting crafting and story time videos on Facebook for younger patrons.

The library has been limiting the number of patrons inside at one time since reopening, keeping to 30 percent of the building’s capacity, and six staff members present each day. McGinnis said this allows them to continue social distancing as they browse.

Still operating under a modified schedule, the building opens at 9 a.m. and remains open until 6 p.m.

“We have seen more people coming in for pleasure reading and so it’s not been a return to business as usual, it’s been ‘boredom-busting’ types of checkouts,” McGinnis said.

She added that things have been manageable since reopening. Patrons can still check out up to 25 items per library card, but areas like the genealogy room are off limits — those materials can’t be sanitized properly for patrons to use them right now.

The library is currently not a space for patrons to come in, sit and read like they’re used to. Throughout the building, tables and chairs where patrons would usually be seated have been stacked on top of each other or set off to the side.

In the computer room, patrons are still allowed to use the library’s computers, with 6 feet blocked off between each station, for up to 20 minutes.

The library’s two quiet study rooms are also off limits.

“We’re open for people who need to do something quickly, but not for all day browsing and hanging out,” McGinnis said.

The library’s lineup of children and teen programming is still on for this summer, but with an added virtual twist.

One program is a virtual scavenger where participants get the clues online and go out into the city to find the items.

“When we have summer programs, we have had 50 to 250 people come for those programs, and while we love providing those services for the public, it does not currently seem prudent to try to do something like that,” McGinnis said.

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