Reopening Cuyahoga Falls Library, 'quite an endeavor'

Some restrictions apply, but staff pleased to be back

JEFF SAUNDERS
Reporter

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Some four months after it closed due to COVID-19, the Cuyahoga Falls Library has reopened, though patrons should certainly expect changes.

“It’s been quite an endeavor to get the building ready and get the social distancing signage, get our hands on [personal protective equipment] and the masks for staff,” said Library Director Valerie Kocin on July 23, the day after the library opened to the public.

Currently only 50 patrons are allowed inside at a time and visits are limited to 30 minutes of browsing and checking out, called “grab and go,” or other services such as using copy machines. Masks are required.

Only patrons 18 and older are allowed in for now, though this is expected to change.

“We’re phasing it in because children cannot social distance very well,” said Kocin. “We’re testing the waters. We were only open a few hours yesterday, and we’re experimenting today. We didn’t know what the demand would be.”

She said patrons had so far been respectful and cooperative.

There is a drive-thru available for people with children or who are uncomfortable about going inside.

“They can place an item on hold, a book, a video, and come to the drive-thru window and get the materials,” said Kocin.

Patrons should also expect to see plexiglass shields and a reconfigured floor to allow for social distancing, including the removal of some computer stations. The computer lab is not yet open.

“We’re getting all our PPE together because cleaning computer keyboards is going to be difficult,” said Kocin. “But it’s coming.”

There is no in-person programming, but virtual programming has been operated for awhile and will continue to be, said Kocin. This includes story times, book clubs, and speakers. The library is also working on helping job seekers.

“We’re partnering with Ohio Means Jobs to offer services that serve communities and that’s coming down the line,” said Kocin. “Resume writing, how to reskill your workset for the new remote workforce reality that we’re in.”

She said some technical issues are being worked out.

“This is all new to us and we’re certainly not masters and we want to put out a good product,” said Kocin.

She said the library’s summer reading program is also going on.

“You can earn prizes and kids get free books right through the drive-thru window,” she said. “You don’t have to come in. So we love to see kids. You know, the summer brain drain is very real and kids that read through the summer retain their learning from the previous year better.”

Kocin said that one thing library staff have learned from all this is that people, even those who used to be resistant to using technology, are not only getting used to it, but have learned to appreciate its convenience. She said she believes this will mean the library will expand its digital services and offerings, such as perhaps more eBooks.

“We’re really open eyed to what customers’ needs are because it’s going to be a brand new library,” she said. “We’re really receptive to see what customers want. We know people love their traditional books, love flipping through the pages, but we’ve also seen an amazing uptick in digital usage.”

The library is at 2015 Third Street. It is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. The first 30 minutes is reserved for seniors and other vulnerable adults.

Go to https://cuyahogafallslibrary.org or call 330-928-2117 for more information.

“We’re just really delighted and [patrons] are really happy to come back and get their materials,” said Kocin. “We’re getting the process going again.”

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.