ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — For most people, curbside service was a close as you got to going inside of any of the Alamance County Public Libraries. On Monday, the doors were open to the public for the first time since mid-March. Re-opening the library was like the feeling you get when you go back to school.
“It’s very exciting. It’s also nerve-racking for staff, getting used to more contact with people,” said Susana Goldman, the library director.
But not too much contact. Everyone is getting used to the new COVID-19 rules or how the library refers to it, “Grab and Go.”
“A lot of that is because we are limiting the amount of time people are interacting with each other and also we have to control how many people are in the building at once with our capacity limits,” Goldman said.
“Grab and Go” service allows for 30 minutes of browsing or one hour of computer time. Very little seating encourages patrons to grab and go, high touch surfaces are cleaned often, and hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. Books that are returned must sit in a conference room for 72 hours before they are put back on the shelf.
When the doors to the library opened, people were ready to grab and go. Ellen Martin was one of the many people searching for a new book to read while at the May Memorial Library Branch.
“I enjoy having the ability to come out again,” Martin said. “We’ve been cooped up and this is a good opportunity to spend 15, 20 minutes getting something we love to do.”
During the closure, Alamance County Public Libraries switched to curbside pickup and online programing, but sometimes you can’t replace a trip to the library.
“We followed the library online while it was closed and did order a number of books through the pickup,” said library patron Russ Martin. “For us, it’s so much easier to be able to come in and look at the new books.”
May Memorial, Graham, and Mebane library branches will open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the libraries will open one hour early for older adults. The North Park Library is not open to the public yet because it’s attached to the Mayco-Bigelow Community Center.