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Middletown Public Library planning limited opening with pickup in lobby

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Middletown Public Library is reopening to the public on a limited “curbside” basis starting Monday, June 8, library director John Grayshaw told the Press & Journal.

People will be able to enter the lobby to pick up books or other items they have reserved online using the library’s online catalog, Grayshaw said. People can start reserving books now, but you cannot pick them up until Monday.

You will need your library card and a form of identification when coming to the lobby to pick up an item you have reserved. The limited hours starting June 8 will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The library plans to add more hours as it is able.

The library has resumed its delivery service of books from Hershey Public Library and from the Dauphin County Library System, Grayshaw said.

The library cannot fully open to the public — meaning allowing people inside the rest of the building — until library staff have precautions in place to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

These include measures like installing plexiglass screens at the front desk, doing what is needed to ensure social distancing, and having a system in place for cleaning public access computer terminals after they are used by the public.

The library will also have to ensure social distancing regarding use of the public access computers. The public access computers will not be available until the library fully reopens to the public.

Once all these precautions and measures are in place the library will announce a date for full reopening to the public.

The library is following directives the Pennsylvania Department of Education has put out in its document the Framework for Reopening Public Libraries, Grayshaw said. The document can be found here.

If someone does not have access to the online card catalog, or if you need help finding a book or an item through the online catalog, you will be able to call library staff for assistance during the limited hours at 717-944-6412.

You can also email the library at info@middletownpubliclib.org if you need help.

Someone will also be able to come to the lobby during the limited hours to request a book or an item. But Grayshaw emphasized the best and most efficient way for this limited-access process to work is for people to use the online catalog to reserve a book or an item as much as possible.

If you have a book that needs turned in, you can drop it off anytime in the box along the street in front of the library at 20 N. Catherine St.

DVDs, audiobooks or other items that do not fit in the book drop can be returned to the library during the limited hours starting June 8.

The library will be giving everyone a “grace week,” but fines for overdue books and materials will resume beginning June 15.

The library during the limited hours also will accept donations of books, DVDs or audiobooks. The library is hoping to hold a book sale in the fall.

The library canceled its summer reading performers. However, the library will use an online form for patrons young and old to keep track of their reading, Grayshaw said.

The library is continuing to post on its Facebook page each week videos and pictures and activities to support programs including STEM, Storytime, Legos and Tales with TAILS.

Grayshaw is continuing the library’s Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook and has added a Star Trek Rewatch group. The library may do a Book Group through Zoom over the summer.

During the closure because of the pandemic, Middletown Public Library cardholders still could get e-books and audiobooks through Overdrive at https://capitalarealibrary.overdrive.com/. In late March, the library added more than 4,000 new e-book titles.