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SLO County Public Libraries set to reopen for public browsing

Paso Robles City Library
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 23:43:20-04

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries is set to open half of its regional and community library branches for public browsing beginning July 7. The branches set to open include libraries in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, Cambria, Los Osos, and Morro Bay.

The branches have been doing curb-side drop-off and pick up for books, which Director of Public Libraries Chris Barnickel says has been beneficial. But now, patrons can get their hands back on print publications.

“Print remains strong," he said. "It’s interesting because if you look at the raw statistics, our third biggest branch would be digital, but we spend nearly $700,000 a year on materials and so that’s a mix of both print and media.”

The library will be open Tuesday through Saturday starting July 7, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. From 9 to 10 a.m., the library will be reserved for more vulnerable populations.

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries asks those who do utilize library resources to practice safe social distancing, grab your materials, and take them home.

No seating areas will be available to the public in order to prevent community members from being in the building for a long time. Computer stations will be available for 20-minute sessions for those who need to access the internet.

“As far as safety measures, we would ask that our patrons come in and wear masks," Barnickel said.

The library will also be quarantining items for a 24-hour period on carts when they are checked in before they can be checked out again, as they continue to work closely with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.

The County Public Libraries system also stresses the importance of lifelong learning, despite new technologies that have allowed for online reading. This has become especially crucial during the coronavirus pandemic, while so many are learning from home.

“If a household is struggling with online learning at home, again this is a reason why we reopened our doors, so that parents can come in and get materials that will supplement what their children are using online," Barnickel said.

Children's Librarian Susana Lewis says the pandemic has brought new learning challenges to both children and parents.

"How do you get a kid to do their homework if they can't even clean their room?" she said. "I don't know. I just I find I find that having to differentiate like 'okay, today I'm your teacher, not your mom, you have to respect me like you respect your teacher.'"

Barnickel says nearly 70,000 patrons throughout the county utilize the library's resources, circulating more than one million items each year.

“People don’t always find what they want online nor can they necessarily afford it," he said. "The library is a way to get access to both get depth and breathe to collections that is free and readily available for households of all ages.”

Last year, Barnickel says the County Libraries borrowed more than 40,000 items from Black Gold Partners Cooperative Library System, to meet the need of San Luis Obispo County library cardholders.

Library cardholders can place holds on items either on the phone or visit slolibrary.org to place holds on catalog items. The library will notify you when they’re ready to be picked up.

The County Libraries' online summer reading program started June 1 and lasts through the end of July.

The program utilizes Beanstack, which helps track reading throughout the summer. Both kids and parents can register and the more you read, you have a chance to be entered for raffle prizes.

Barnickel says the seven libraries that won't be reopening yet are too small to allow for proper social distancing.