Library Service Roadmap
Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going – FAQ
We miss you and we’re working hard to continually expand services until we can all be together again. The Library and its staff have been working for you throughout the COVID-19 situation.
How can we return materials? Are BOOK and MEDIA Drops open? Where?
You can return materials through the BOOK and MEDIA Drop boxes, open at every library branch, except the Campbell branch inside the Campbell High School D’Amato Field House. Please place books and paper materials in the drops designated for BOOKS; place A/V materials such as CDs, movies, music in the drops designated for MEDIA.
I’ve had these materials throughout the stay-at-home order. Will there be fines? How do I return them safely?
Patrons are asked to place library materials directly into the BOOK or MEDIA drop box, but cautioned NOT to leave materials outside the box if it is full. Library cardholders are responsible for damages to materials checked out on their card. All returned items will be quarantined for four days, after which, materials will be checked in so that others may safely borrow them. There will be no late fees; the due date for anything borrowed prior to March 16 has been extended to August 6. Patrons should be aware that returned items may not be reflected in patron records immediately due to quarantine and processing time.
Can I get an actual book from the library? And where are the holds I placed?
Yes! Contactless Curbside Pickup started June 3 and you can pick up materials at one of four libraries: Austintown, Boardman and Canfield branches, and the Main Library in Youngstown. Patrons can place holds and check out books, movies, WiFi hotspots, and other library materials, for pickup. Staff will make arrangements with the patron for time and location of the pickup. Curbside pickup hours will be Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 – 6:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
More details here: https://www.libraryvisit.org/blog/news/library-begins-curbside-pickup-june-3/
How is the Library ensuring that materials are safe to be re-circulated?
When the book and media drops are emptied, they are taken to a room inside the library where they remain untouched for (4) days. The best research available to libraries at this time indicates that the COVID-19 virus is is not detectible after three (3) days on five common library materials. We have added a little time and are holding them for (4) days before putting them back in service. “New research from Battelle concludes that the coronavirus is not detectable on five different library materials after three days…Scientists put the coronavirus on the cover of hardcover books, the cover of paperback books, plain paper pages inside a closed book, mylar protective book cover jackets, and plastic DVD cases.”
[Source, WOSU Publi Media: https://www.battelle.org/newsroom/news-details/battelle-study-coronavirus-undetectable-on-some-library-materials-after-three-days]
Are the libraries providing free WIFI?
The Library’s WIFI has been available outside libraries before and during the stay-at-home order and free WIFI is still available. The signal was boosted during this time to better enable people to use the WIFI outside libraries. Watch for signs in the library yards which indicate areas of best reception.
Will you be opening any libraries soon?
The Library continues to move cautiously for the safety of our patrons and our staff. We are moving ahead in a steady, well-planned manner. Very soon, four library buildings will be opened for limited services. And more services will be offered in the coming weeks. Watch this page and the Library’s Facebook page (LibraryMahoningCounty) for the announcement. (07-02-20)
|Note: The Library has signed the pledge to EMERGE Safely Pledge with the Youngtown-Warren Regional Chamber, the Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau.|
Library Book Drops Reopen and Planning Continues to Expand Services
YOUNGSTOWN (June 17, 2020/For Immediate Release) – Planning continues for expansion of services at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Beginning today, book and media drop boxes will again be available at all libraries and materials can be returned.
“As we move forward to expand services, we are working hard to balance exceptional customer service with the safety of our patrons and staff by following the guidelines put out by the Governor’s office,” said Library Executive Director Aimee Fifarek.Read More
The Library expects a high volume of returns with book and media drops back in place this week. Patrons are asked to place library materials directly into the book or media drop box, but cautioned not to leave materials outside the box if it is full. Library cardholders are responsible for damages to materials checked out on their card. All returned items will be quarantined for four days, after which, materials will be checked in so that others may safely borrow them. There will be no late fees; the due date for anything borrowed prior to March 16 has been extended to August 6. Patrons should be aware that returned items may not be reflected in patron records immediately due to quarantine and processing time.
“Thank you for your patience as we are all moving through this new reality where cautious steps are needed to ensure the safety of our staff and patrons,” Ms. Fifarek said. “We must take precautions when considering in-building service, as libraries are gathering places and used by the most vulnerable populations, such as seniors, young children, people in poverty who are also prone to underlying disease. The country has seen massive spikes in COVID-19 cases in states that opened much faster than Ohio. We are choosing to move ahead more slowly and with an abundance of caution.”
“Many may not understand the complexities of reopening libraries, as we do not fall into the same categories as many businesses and organizations,” Ms. Fifarek continued. Because of the many different types of services libraries provide, to safely reopen, libraries have to follow not one, but multiple sets of guidelines, such as: child care (after school), banquet halls (meeting rooms), entertainment (programming), offices (public computers), and retail (collection browsing). Another consideration is staffing capacity given that about one-fourth of Library staff is on voluntary furlough under the CARES Act.
What the Library Has Done So Far
Many library services continued without interruption and several have been added since library buildings closed March 16, including:
• virtual programming, including Summer Discovery
• reference services
• audiobooks, e-books, movies and music
• online databases
• WIFI signals boosted to allow public use of the Internet from Library parking lots
• Curbside Pickup at Main Library, Austintown, Boardman and Canfield branches, getting physical materials into the hands of library patrons
• Pop-Up Library service at remote locations
• Special Delivery service, providing materials to qualifying disabled patrons
“Over the last two months, 58 staffers have done more than 250 online programs, on topics ranging from book talks to crafts programs to standard and bilingual storytimes,” said Ms. Fifarek. “The 571 posts staff created on four different social media platforms were viewed a combined 891,198 times. And since starting phone service on March 26, staff working from home have answered more than 1,500 calls. Remote reference started on April 15 and librarians answered more than 400 reference questions by the end of May.”
What the Library Is Planning
She noted, “We are currently planning how we can allow limited access to our buildings for services such as computer/Internet use and printer copier use in early July, workforce development uses, and essential partner projects like blood drives and tax preparation. Mass gathering restrictions remain in place, so we are unable to offer meeting room space, face-to-face programming or traditional library ‘reading room’ activities. We plan to open more locations when our staff on voluntary furlough is back at work in August.”
“We want to express our sincere thanks to our community for their love of libraries and for their patience. We love our patrons, as well, and cannot wait until we can welcome you all back into our libraries again,” said Ms. Fifarek.
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An Open Letter from the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County – June 17, 2020
Everyone across Ohio is taking cautious steps out of our homes and PLYMC is no different. Although our staff has been providing amazing programs online for the entirety of this crisis, and we are available nearly every day by phone and by email, you tell us it’s just not the same as being in the library with a book in your hand.
We hear you and couldn’t agree more!Read More
But, like they say on social media, it’s complicated. More than anything else, people see libraries as a safe place, where you can come when you’re not at work, at home, or at school. We try to live up to that trust every day, and the COVID-19 era is no exception.
Libraries are a lot of things to a lot of people: office, study hall, bookstore, meeting space, entertainment venue and sometimes even day care and refuge. But while each one of those industries does one thing and has one set of guidelines to follow, ALL of them apply to the Library in some respect. It’s our duty to make sure we are adhering to these regulations as we expand our services.
That’s why we are taking things slowly. We started curbside pickup of materials on June 3 and are putting our book drops back out for you to return materials June 17. We will be opening a few locations for computer and copier access in early July, and plan to open more locations when our staff on voluntary furlough is back at work in August. There is still a mass gathering restriction of 10 people and once that is adjusted, we will be able to start additional services.
Most importantly, we want to do this right the first time, so we don’t have to shut down services because the virus is spreading. We know how important we are to everyone in school, and we want to be there for you when classes are back in session in the fall.
But there is one thing libraries don’t want to keep doing, and that’s being a person’s ONLY source of reliable broadband access. It is true for too many people in the community, and if this crisis has showed us anything, it is that people need reliable, affordable broadband access in their homes if they are to succeed in school, at work, and in life.
People shouldn’t have to sit in our parking lots – or our buildings for that matter – to do homework or apply for jobs. They shouldn’t have to spend a long time walking to a library or taking public transportation just to have an hour or two on a computer. To successfully swim in the waters of our digital era, everyone needs to have Internet access at their fingertips, whenever they need it, day or night.
We applaud the initiatives going through Federal and State legislatures to help make this happen. U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson is a member of the U.S. Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus and in April, with Rep. Rob Wittman, introduced the Serving Rural America Act to provide $100 million a year over five years to expand broadband service to unserved areas of the country.
Last week, the Ohio House passed the Residential Broadband Expansion Legislation sponsored by Ohio Representatives Rick Carfagna and Michael O’Brien and and co-sponsored by Ohio Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan which would provide $20M to expand broadband services to Ohio households without access today. We hope that these and other measures succeed.
While we wait, your Library will still be there for you. We’ve boosted WIFI into our parking lots and added signs to show where the signal is strongest. We will be opening up for computer access next month. And we’ve purchased additional WIFI hotspots for checkout through curbside service so you can have access where it will do the most good – at home. All of this is free with your library card.
The library is open 24/7 at libraryvisit.org, and by phone Monday – Saturday at 330-259-3399.