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Portage County libraries announced that they will temporarily cease operations starting this week and continuing into April.
Here’s what you need to know about closures, tentative re-open dates and potential late fees:
Portage County District Library
The Portage County District Library, its branch libraries and other services closed on Monday. The PCDL branch libraries include the Aurora Memorial Library, Garrettsville Library, Pierce Streetsboro Library, Randolph Library and Windham Library. A tentative re-open date is set for April 6.
Because the PCDL is fine-free library, overdue fines are not an issue. SearchOhio and OhioLINK materials will be backdated so that fines do not accumulate on checked out materials. All PCDL programs, events and meeting room bookings are suspended until at least April 4.
According to an email to the Record-Courier from PCDL Director Jonathan Harris, the decision was made with the consultation of the Library Board of Trustees and is meant to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19, or, new coronavirus. Despite canceled programs, the board will still meet as scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Garrettsville Library, 10482 South St. The public still has the option to attend, Harris said.
Patrons are encouraged to utilize the library’s electronic services. Those who do not currently have a library card can sign up for a temporary one at www.portagelibrary.org, to access materials from digital outlets.
Kent Free Library
Beginning Tuesday and continuing until at least April 5, the Kent Free Library will close as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to a message on the library’s website, patrons are asked to keep borrowed materials until the library reopens. There is no need to return items during the shutdown as no fines or fees will accrue during that time. A grace period for returning materials will be put in place after the Kent Free Library reopens. Any late fees that accumulate accidentally will be forgiven.
The Kent Free Library will try to set aside any items recently placed on hold so that they may be picked up at the time of reopening. Patrons are asked to expect slowdowns in delivery and cancellations of library materials on hold, though, due to library closures across the state.
Digital resources will still be available. Kent Free Library Director Stacey Richardson wrote that the library hopes to increase the number of checkouts permitted on Hoopla and Kanopy, two of its digital media resources.
Richardson said the library aimed to stay open as long as possible. Ceasing operation temporarily, however, became necessary to protect the health and safety of the community and staff.
The library will continue to update its plans and communicate changes on its website, www.kentfreelibrary.org, and on social media.
Reed Memorial Library
Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna will remain closed until at least April 5, according to its website.
In addition to not loaning out materials during the closure, the library will also forgive all late fees and extend loan periods until April 15. Additional money will be spent on digital resources. Plus, the monthly allotment of downloads from Hoopla will also be increased. Learn more about Reed Memorial Library’s digital resources by visiting www.reedlibrary.org/digital.
The decision was made based on recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health and not one made lightly. As the outbreak escalates and other nearby libraries close, director Brian Hare wrote, it was possible an influx of outside patrons could have increased the risk of community transmission.
“This situation is unprecedented and we appreciate your understanding as we navigate it together,” Hare wrote.
Reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey can be reached at email@example.com or 330-298-1127.