- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2020

Public libraries across the D.C. region are taking various precautions to protect patrons and staff from transmitting the coronavirus as they gear up for reopening.

Fairfax County’s libraries will offer curbside pickup starting Monday, although they will be closed for the summer.

The Fairfax County Library System also will take returns, but because so many books and other items are on loan — more than 500,000 items — branches will accept returns on certain days based on borrowers’ last names.

On Mondays, the system will take returns from patrons whose last names begin with A through H, Wednesdays will be I through Q, and Fridays R through Z. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

While all programs are cancelled for the summer, the libraries will offer digital programming, and WiFi can be accessed from library parking lots.

The Lorton Library, however, will be closed for renovation.

While Prince George’s County’s libraries aren’t opening yet, they are getting ready.

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has a four-phase plan, though no timeline has yet been determined as the county begins its phase one reopening, said spokesman Nicholas Brown.

In the first phase, curbside pickup will be available, and book drop-off receptacles will be reopened. Staff in the branches will be limited, and customers won’t be allowed inside.

Mr. Brown said the library system is providing reusable face coverings to staff members and working on putting up sneeze guards around circulation desks for when customers are allowed back in for limited entry during phase two.

In phase two, customers will be able to make reservations to use computers.

“Our approach is very much cautious, and we know that there is a lot of different movement happening in the region including our neighbors in the District and Anne Arundel County,” Mr. Brown said. “We are really focused on staff customer safety and health in our plan.”

He said more details will be released in mid-June.

In the District, libraries will begin reopening for curbside service this week.

The first will be the Anacostia and Cleveland Park libraries, which will be open starting Monday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Borrowers will be able to return items through the curbside service, as well, the D.C. Public Library announced Friday.

On Wednesday through Friday, the Mount Pleasant, West End, Shepherd Park, Woodridge, Northeast and Benning libraries will start up curbside service, but only for returns. Hours will also be 1-5 p.m.

Those libraries will start offering full curbside service starting June 8, with hours for all open libraries from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Remote printing, which allows customers to send documents electronically for printing, also will be available.

More libraries will reopen and resume their services during phases two and three of the District’s reopening plan.

Meanwhile, Arlington County plans to open the Central Library in mid-June so customers can pick up books placed on hold, a spokesman for Arlington Public Library said. More information will be announced in coming days.

• Sophie Kaplan can be reached at skaplan@washingtontimes.com.

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