KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE:
The Knox County Public Library announced plans to close to the public starting Friday, March 20 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The library said it would be open on Thursday, March 19, to give patrons one more day to check out books and other media for the duration of its closure. No information was immediately available as to when the library would reopen.
The library also said it would take extra steps to accommodate patrons during its closure. In a press release it said it was:
- Waiving all overdue fines
- Increasing check out limits of items
- Increasing renewals to four times and extending loan periods for six weeks
- Providing ongoing access to online resources including ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, animated storybooks
- Providing reference service (Ask a librarian) through text, chat or email
Anyone who wants more information about COVID-19 is encouraged to call the Knox County Health Department's public information line at (865) 215-5555, or toll-free at (888) 288-6022. It is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
--OLDER STORY BELOW--
Knox County's public libraries are still open for limited services during the coronavirus pandemic.
People can still visit the library to check out books and materials, but public computer use, programming, and meeting room use has been suspended until further notice.
They've also taken other measures to keep employees and patrons safe.
"We have eliminated seating so that all seating maintaining the social distance guidelines of six feet so people can not sit together. We have sanitized everything over and over again. The safety of our patrons and our staff is our utmost concern and we absolutely are doing everything we can in that realm," said spokesperson Mary Pom Claiborne.
Keeping the libraries open is a local decision, but Mayor Glenn Jacobs and library officials have said they are following CDC guidelines and working with local public health leaders.
"If you come into the library and look around, there aren't very many people here. There aren't crowds. We are discouraging any kind of gathering of any sort and it's just not happening. People in this community are taking it very seriously so we fell that we're following the guidelines and the public health and mayor's guidelines so we're in good shape," said Claiborne.
They are encouraging people to make use of audiobooks, ebooks and other online materials, including online learning.
"This is a great time to be creative. we have a lot of online video courses. The Lynda.com videos. If you've always wanted to animate, we have videos to teach you how do to this. How to bone up on your Microself Excel or Adobe. Over 7,000 videos are available to learn or enhance the skills you have," she said.
Claiborne said they are also hoping to do some online storytimes and other virtual activities for kids.
The Library is taking additional action to ensure patron and staff safety:
• Waiving all overdue fines
• Increasing check out limits of items to reduce trips to the Library
• Increasing renewals to four times and extending loan periods for six weeks
• Looking up patron accounts by name to avoid touching cards
• Removing all puzzles, games, and toys from public areas
• Regularly disinfecting high traffic areas
• Suspending interlibrary loan