The Lamar County Library System has entered into Stage 3 of its reopening process, with all four of its libraries – Oak Grove, Sumrall, Purvis and Lumberton – being opened to the public after being temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning June 30, patrons will be allowed to browse book and movie collections, schedule public access computer sessions and use other services. The libraries will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays, with exception of July 3 for part of the Independence Day holiday.
“We’re very excited about this,” library system director Diane DeCesare Ross said. “It’s been a long time coming, and all the staff is ready and waiting for people to come in.
“I know in Oak Grove, there have been people lined up every day for the services that we do have available. It’s just going to be a great time, I hope.”
To ensure safety during the pandemic, staff and library guests over the age of three are required to wear masks. Hand sanitizer is provided, and cleaning frequency has increased, particularly for high contact surfaces.
Social distancing will be encouraged, and the number of people allowed inside the building will be limited, if necessary.
“Anybody age 3 and above will need to wear a mask covering their nose and their mouth, and that will be strictly enforced,” Ross said. “If the mask slips, they will be reminded to pull it up, and if they take it off and won’t put it back on, then they’ll be asked to leave.”
Computers will be available in a limited capacity.
“Folks can make appointments to use them, but if they walk in and nobody’s using them and nobody has an appointment coming up, they’ll be able to do that,” Ross said. “We’ve got keyboard covers to help us with the cleanliness factor there.”
In addition, the library system also is moving forward with online programming and the summer reading program, which began on June 16. This year, participants can easily track their reading and earn prizes through Beanstack, a new online service which can be accessed through the library system website at www.lclsms.org.
The Beanstack app can also be downloaded from the Apple or Google App Stores. Patrons can also pick up paper summer reading logs at any Lamar County Library System location.
This latest measure is part of a four-stage process in reopening the four branches of the library system.
Stage 1 began May 4, when regular staff schedules resumed and employees started to prepare the facilities for the eventual return of the public. Stage 2 began on May 12, with limited services to the public, including curbside or window-side pickup. Guests also were allowed to request library materials through the system’s online catalog or over the phone and then pick the items up at the library.
In Stage 4, the library will be fully open to the public, with access and all library services provided under normal procedures and schedules. That stage does not have a set timeline.
“It just sort of depends on whatever happens in the world,” Ross said. “At this stage, we just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“We’re already looking at the end of July, where we had planned to have some in-person programming – we’re already looking at having to make that virtual instead.”
More information can be found at https://lclsms.org or www.facebook.com/lclsms.
Phone numbers for the library branches are as follows: Lumberton (601) 796-2505; Oak Grove (601) 296-1704; Purvis (601) 794-6291; Sumrall (601) 758-4711.