News Release, St. Mary’s County Library

July 27, 2020 – Leonardtown, Md. – St. Mary’s County Library is pleased to announce that we will be welcoming customers back into the Library buildings starting Monday, August 3, 2020. This initial phase of opening to the public will be limited and will maximize safety for both staff and customers.

Precautions have been put in place that we ask all customers to respect. Travel and community spread can still cause spikes in the COVID-19 virus and we are taking the safety of our staff and customers very seriously. Due to the uncertain nature of the pandemic, there is always a possibility that the St. Mary’s County Library will return to only curbside service or close one or all branches once again for an extended period (such actions may be necessary if any of our employees contract the virus or if other circumstances make these actions our safest course forward.)

What restrictions will be in place?

Masks are required in the building for both staff and customers over the age of two.

All customers are asked to maintain a social distance of 6’ between one another. Our buildings have been prepared to accommodate social distancing. Some computers have been taken offline, some seating has been removed or otherwise covered, and there are marked waiting points for our customers in line to check out materials. Customers entering with children are asked to stay together, and please make sure to help children maintain social distance from other customers.

Wipes will be available for customers to use in sanitizing and plastic wrap will be used to protect public keyboards.

Computer assistance from staff will be limited due to the need for physical distancing. In some interactions, staff may use laser pointers or assist customers via online chat help. Employees are not to come within 6 feet of customers.

Due to the Health Department’s guidelines, the number of visitors to our buildings will be limited. We have followed Health Department guidelines to determine how many customers and staff can be in a building while ensuring physical distancing. The following person limits apply: Charlotte Hall Library will allow 10 to 12; Leonardtown and Lexington Park will allow 20 to 24. Staff will monitor entrances and exits and will try to accommodate groups. Larger groups may have to wait for a period of time before entering.

To ensure that as many people as possible may use the Library, each visitor is limited to one-hour per visit. Computer sessions will be limited to 50 minutes in order to ensure time for printing, logging in and out, etc.

Library hours will be Monday – Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday – Saturday, 12 p.m. (noon) to 5 p.m. The Libraries will be closed Sundays due to cleaning schedules.

Customers or staff showing the symptoms of COVID-19 are asked not to enter our buildings or use curbside service. Symptomatic visitors will be asked to leave.

Will curbside service continue?

Yes. In order to serve as many as possible, the existing curbside service will continue, including printing service. Call us for further details during our open hours at 301-475-2846.

What if I have books to return?

The book drops on the exterior of all three Libraries are open. Please continue to return all items through the book drops. Staff will not accept materials returned by hand.

Can I request materials from Calvert Library or Charles County Public Library?

Yes. St. Mary’s County Library can now receive materials from our Southern Maryland partners, although items may be delayed more than usual due to implemented safety precautions.

What about interlibrary loan outside Southern Maryland?

Statewide loans will begin August 3. This reopening is not related to our schedule.

When will you be opening the buildings more fully and/or withdrawing your social distancing measures?

Any further loosening of restrictions will depend on guidelines from the State and St. Mary’s County Health Department. If this current phase goes well, we will continue to open services and reduce limitations as it is deemed safe to do so.

When will you be holding in-person programs and events again?

Any in-person programming or events will depend on guidelines from the State and St. Mary’s County Health Department. We do not anticipate any Library programs or events at our locations through the Fall. To stay current with our programs and events, please visit our website or social media to participate in virtual programming and update your email with the Library to receive our e-newsletters.

Can I (or my group or organization) use the meeting rooms?

No, the meeting rooms will not be available for public use at this time.

What if I have materials to donate?

Unfortunately, St. Mary’s County Library and the Friends of the St. Mary’s County Library remain unable to accept donations at this time.

How do I know library materials are safe?

All materials, once returned, will be quarantined for 96 hours (4 days) to ensure that any potential for contamination is removed, following best practices recommended by the State Library Resource Center and a national study conducted by Batelle. Please allow up to 7 days for items to clear your account after you have returned them.

Are Your Buildings safe?

Our buildings receive a daily deep cleaning from the County and we also have a daily schedule for sanitizing. As with any public space, there is no guarantee of safety. Due to the frequency of customer visits and the characteristics of the COVID-19 virus, there is a risk of contracting the virus by being in the Library and using Library equipment.