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In the books: Shepherdstown Public Library continues summer operations in spite of coronavirus
July 31, 2020

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SHEPHERDSTOWN -- Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Shepherdstown Public Library to close for two weeks, it has since reopened, and has resumed its regular summer schedule.

In spite of this, SPL Director Hali Taylor said the number of its regular patrons has not returned to normal.

"Basically, our idea is that people don't really know that we're open," Taylor said on Friday afternoon. "A lot of people don't know that we are still providing a good amount of services.

"It's a no-contact service," Taylor said, regarding how the library is dealing with COVID-19 concerns. "We are not letting people in for the foreseeable future, because we are just too small to maintain social distancing. If people come to the front door, they can open it and look inside at the display of books that we have on regular rotation. We have an acrylic shield up, and people can look at the books. People love to browse in the library. They don't always know what they want, so this is the way they can still browse."

Along with having this browsing option, the library is also occasionally holding pop-up libraries in front of its building, during the Shepherdstown Farmers Market on Sundays. Books can be browsed through, without risking the potential spread of the coronavirus, by viewing their covers and talking with the library staff member manning the booth. According to Children's Librarian Tish Wiggs, the opportunity to browse through books increases the likelihood that patrons will read more diversely.

"Shelf serendipity is where people come in to get a book and see another book on the shelf and check it out as well. If people don't see it on a shelf, they won't try it out," Wiggs said.

Along with lending out books, DVDs and CDs, the library is also offering a number of other services.

"We also have services online, where we can lend out ebooks and audio books," Taylor said. "We're offering virtual story times. We will make copies for you, and we will fax and scan as well. We also provide notary services. So people can come and do things like that."

According to Taylor, normally the library charges for copying and faxing for patrons, but during the pandemic it is offering those services for free. Additionally, Taylor said the library is giving complete amnesty for overdue fines, and is considering eradicating the fine system altogether. Because the library is making these cuts to its financial income, Taylor said it encourages community members to help support it by joining the library's Nourishing Literacy Giving Circle.

"It would be wonderful - we would appreciate any support we can get that way!" Taylor said.

One area where the library has seen a major decrease in involvement this summer has been in its Summer Reading Program.

"It's gone down pretty significantly," Wiggs said about the program for children and adult readers. "In previous years, we had 250-300 people sign up. This year we have a digital platform for reporting our reading logs, and right now I have about 30 people signed up on that."

For those who would prefer recording and reporting their reading through the library's former method of paper logs, the library has printed off some of those, which can be picked up at its location at 100 East German Street. Due to the school year's late start date, the program is still accepting participants and has extended its ending date to Aug. 28, just before the school year begins. Those who complete their logs by that date will win a $5 gift card to Four Seasons Books.

To learn more, visit lib.shepherdstown.wv.us or call 304-876-2783.

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