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Library to hand out masks upon reopening

As the state shows its first signs of reopening amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, operations of all shapes and sizes are cautiously eying reopening their doors in the coming weeks – the Selma-Dallas County Public Library is no exception and it’s taking steps to ensure that, when the doors are flung open again, library visitors and staff are protected.

According to Selma-Dallas County Public Library Executive Director Becky Nichols, the library is hoping to reopen by Monday, May 18, though she said it will only be a partial reopening to start.

“Everyone understands this has to be a cautious reopening,” Nichols said.

With that in mind, Nichols said the library made a call-out for masks and the response was overwhelming – individuals and local groups pitched in to help out and library staff have been crafting their own.

The library now has 150 face masks, in a variety of colors and styles, that will be handed out to library patrons once the library is up and running again.

“Since libraries are in the business of providing things people don’t have, we decided to make some,” Nichols said. “This is not only a gift from the library, but a gift to the Selma community. We’re not going to run any risk here at the library.”

Nichols said the partial reopening of the library will likely mean shortened hours, as staff will have to deep clean and sanitize the building each day, or only portions of the library being opened to the public.

However, Nichols noted that the library will continue its curbside service, which she says has been incredibly popular throughout the coronavirus crisis – between March 17 and March 31, the library served 846 patrons with 555 different services and references; between April 1 and April 17, the library served 1,223 patrons with 822 different services and references.;

“These have been incredible library service numbers and we are proud of this performance,” Nichols said. “This has truly been a remarkable chapter in the life of our library and our community.”

Along with requiring that all library visitors wear masks, Nichols noted that only one entrance will be open to the public and that she is looking to order thermometers to take temperature checks for people stopping in.

“We want to make it clear to people that we must remain healthy,” Nichols said.

Nichols added, however, that any plans for reopening hinge on forthcoming announcements from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey regarding the state’s plans for a broader reopening in the coming weeks.