Griffin-Spalding County Library to close until further notice

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Griffin-Spalding County Library will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17.

The decision to close the library until further notice was made by the library administration and its Board of Trustees.

The Griffin-Spalding County Library averages approximately 450 patrons through the door daily.

Library officials say the decision was not made lightly, but from an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of patrons and staff to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 through the community.

“It was very difficult for us to decide to close…but we don’t want to take a chance on sickness being spread by people coming in,” said Flint River Regional Library Executive Director Natalie Marshall.

If you do not have a library card, it is not too late to obtain one for use during the closure and beyond.

“If you do not have a library card, we will be open until 9 p.m. today and you are welcome to come in and obtain one. You’d be able to take out print materials, DVDs, whatever we have, normal library materials,” said Marshall. “The full library will be open today. We will be closing to the public as of the close of business today.”

For those who are unable to obtain a library card in person prior to the close of business today, there is an online application option available.

“Right now we are working on making sure that will work. If you go to our website, you’ll see a button that says Library Card, and you can apply for one online,” Marshall said. “You would need to follow up with a phone call to us during regular business hours and we will be able to give you access to the digital resources. Once we close, we won’t be giving out any print materials until we reopen, but people will be able to access digital books, audiobooks and databases.”

Marshall said patrons who already have a library card, but also have outstanding fines may also be able to utilize online services during the closure. Marshall said efforts are being undertaken to enable that access, but officials are uncertain it will be possible as local library administrators are cannot override PINES policies.

“We’re trying to make sure that even people with outstanding balances can access online, but we’re not sure what we can do at this time,” she said. (The GRIP will follow up on this aspect in coming days.)

One popular library offering – internet access – will remain available on a limited basis.
“It is available outside of the library. We would encourage people that they are able to use that, but we would encourage them not to congregate. That would negate the purposes of closing the library for social distancing, but yes, the WIFI will remain on and can be accessed outside in the parking lot,” Marshall said.

During the closure, late fees will be suspended. Library patrons need not make a trip to return books or other materials during this time. The due date of all items currently checked out will be extended throughout the closure.

At present, library staff will be available by phone to answer questions, reset library card passwords and explain online offerings.

Patrons are encouraged to take advantage of available digital collections including books, audiobooks, magazines, databases, language learning, test prep and more. Digital materials are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your library card. Notices about how to access online resources will be posted on the library doors, website and social media.

It is uncertain how long the library closure may last.

“At the very least, this week and quite possibly this next week, as well,” Marshall said.

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