Mask mandate lifted and interlibrary loan issues being resolved – BG Independent News

By David Dupont

BG Independent News

The Wood County District Library is another step closer to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Masks are now recommended, not required.

Library director Michael Penrod, speaking after Monday’s trustees’ meeting, said once the county removed the mask mandate in its buildings, dropping the requirement in the library became inevitable.

“Enforcement was getting difficult,” he said.

Schools don’t require masks on buses, and the CDC has said mask mandates aren’t necessary once a county has medium transmission risk. Also, more people are being vaccinated and there is better treatment for those who contract COVID-19.

Nonetheless, any customer or employee is “welcomed and encouraged” to wear a mask if they wish.

Penrod said the library is 99% back to pre-pandemic service.

Once the summer reading program is over, the meeting room will be available for rent.

However, the atrium will not be available for rental for an extended period and will be used sparingly, even for library events. The Library Foundations’ main fundraising night, Novel Night, will take place at the Veterans Building in City Park in July.

The atrium will be used for the presentation of Caldecott’s 2021 award-winning picture book “We Are Water Protectors” on April 2. Author Carole Lindstrom will be on hand to talk about the book while illustrator Michaela Goade will appear virtually from her home. in Alaska.

[RELATED: ‘We Are Water Protectors’ creators to present at Wood County library]

The limited use of the atrium is unrelated to pandemic precautions.

“I need that floor space for collections,” Penrod said. Moving exhibits around the atrium takes a long time.

Foot traffic in the building is increasing but still has not reached pre-pandemic levels.

Circulation in 2021 is up 15% from 2020, but still down 15-20% from 2019.

The programs, Penrod said, boost circulation, and those still aren’t at full steam.

The library solves another circulation problem by getting books in and out through interlibrary loan.

The State Library has terminated its contract with the existing courier service and will revert to using the previous contractor. “It’s a good move. We’re going back to a company that we know can provide a high quality service and in the meantime we’re going to tell people “if you need a book, come to the library and we’ll get it to you from a one way or another.’ We will try to meet this need.”

The state-level transition is expected to last until April or May. In the meantime, the county’s eight independent library districts plus the McComb Library have come together to form their own book-sharing system.

The state-level problems began last summer, after the State Library System and the State Administrative Services Department switched courier services. A request for proposals for the service was issued for the service early last year. STAT Courier received the contract on existing provider Priority Dispatch.

Problems arose almost immediately. The service improved before deteriorating again. “This company could not provide the services it was contracted to perform, so this contract was canceled by the state library,” Penrod said.

Priority Dispatch will now be the courier.

Penrod said about a third of new books the library receives are sent to other libraries on interlibrary loan. Another third is sent to local customers awaiting titles. While the rest is stored in the new books section of the library.

The library would have books piled up everywhere if those books weren’t circulating locally or through interlibrary loan, he said.

Penrod also noted that the Children’s Place enjoys a prime view of the nearby construction site where the old senior center is crumbling and where the city’s new building will be constructed.

The room behind the desk overlooks the site and has been stocked with Tonka trucks, helmets, books, blocks, diagrams of famous buildings around the world, and other construction-themed materials.

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