The Main Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County opened for in-person services in Downtown Cincinnati today

By Chuck Gibson 

CINCINNATI, OH (July 20,2020) – The Downtown Cincinnati Main Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County reopened to the public with limited in-person library services today, Monday, July 20. 

Main branch Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County (Provided) 

Next Monday, July 27, another 37 locations of the 41 total public library locations will also reopen for limited in-person services. The Greenhills branch will continue offering curbside service only until school begins. The Mt. Healthy and Elmwood Place locations will remain closed to in-person services, but will begin offering curbside services Monday, August 3rd. The Price Hill branch will remain closed while renovation work continues. 

Loveland branch Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County (File)

Here’s some of what visitor’s found at the Main Branch of the library in Downtown Cincinnati today: The Vine Street entrance remained closed. The Walnut Street entrance provided first-floor access to visitors. A limited number of persons will be allowed in the building or a space within the building. The number of computers and devices is limited and they will be spaced apart. Physical (Social) Distancing by both staff and visitors will be expected to be practiced. 

Staff will be wearing masks. Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear masks. Service points will have protective measures ie: pleixglass barriers in place. Hand sanititzer will be available throughout the buildings. 

Computer and devices will be limited and spaced apart. (FILE)

Due to the pandemic and limited service, the library has furloughed 58 staff members from the Downtown Main Library’s Genealogy & Local History, Information & Reference and Youth Services departments, along with the Floaters/substitutes pool. Managers of the departments were not furloughed to ensure uninterrupted service to customers.  While many staff and employee adjustments have been made during the pandemic, no staff member is being terminated, laid off, or hours reduced at this time. 

“The pandemic isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so we expect to be operating in this limited in-person capacity for the foreseeable future,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Library. “The difficult decision to furlough some staff comes from our need to be good stewards of the tax dollars that fund our organization. We look forward to providing more robust service to the community as soon as we are able.”

Click here for full details of what to expect as the Lirary reopens for in-person services

Read more of the information release regarding staff adjustments and return to in-person services below: 

These changes go into effect immediately until further notice. Furloughed staff members are being compensated through the end of the pay period ending July 25. At the beginning of the pandemic, while its buildings were completely closed, the Library reduced hours for 435 non-exempt staff down to 25 percent, and furloughed 106 part-time staff who typically worked 12 or fewer hours per week. Reduced-hours staff members were brought back to full hours June 28 to prepare for offering in-person services.

Staff members who are not being furloughed are those whose full scope of work is able to be accomplished at this time remotely or within Library facilities at limited capacity. This decision was not taken lightly and occurred after careful research and deliberation, and the Library leadership team intends to evaluate the situation continuously.

As locations open for in-person services Monday, July 27, customers will notice the following changes:

  • The Library is providing a free mask if a customer needs one. A mask order is currently in effect for all of Hamilton County.
  • Customers and staff are expected to practice physical distancing at all times. Furniture has been spaced out to accommodate this and items like Plexiglass barriers have been installed.
  • Each facility has a lower maximum capacity.
  • Customers are asked to limit their visits to one hour.
  • Customers have access to computers, printers, and faxes, as well as the ability to browse and pick up holds.
  • Increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols are in place. Hand sanitizer is available for customers and staff.
  • HVAC system blowers have been increased to maximize airflow.
  • We are not accepting groups at this time, and we are not offering in-person programs or events.
  • Curbside and drive-thru services are still being offered at all in-person locations.
  • Special hours for vulnerable populations are now Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.

“As Library staff, we are committed to open access and being a welcoming and inviting place for all in our community, always prioritizing connecting people with the world of ideas and information,” said Brehm-Heeger. “These new procedures are difficult for us and we understand you may feel frustration as well. Please know we are doing our best to balance public health needs and safety with our mission to provide services.”

More at: