from James Hill, Library Director

It’s ironic that in the “information age,” we don’t always get the information we’re looking for. Or, as often as not, we have to stop and question the information we do get. That applies to Coronavirus, too.

I’m not an expert, so in these situations I think it’s important to trust health officials rather than pundits and anecdotes. The State of Ohio’s Department of Health website maintains a list of suspected Covid19 cases in Ohio. As of now, March 9, there are no confirmed cases in our state with 4 outstanding tests [UPDATE: Three of those cases are now confirmed positive]. That does not mean there won’t be any cases in Ohio. In fact, with more widely available testing, it’s likely there will be cases reported, and probably soon. So, how does that affect the library?

First and foremost: nothing replaces washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Sing the birthday song to yourself, recite the opening words to Star Trek with the appropriate Shatner phrasing, or whatever helps you mark time. When washing isn’t an option, use hand sanitizer as a stop gap until you can get to soap and water.

Don’t panic. The library isn’t sanitizing books (how would we?) or closing the stacks.  The consensus seems to be that this virus has a maximum life span of about 72 hours or less outside of a body. In general, viruses don’t live long on soft materials like clothing and furniture and paper. They can live longer on hard surfaces, like desktops, so we’re cleaning those as often as we can. If it makes you feel safer, consider leaving your checkouts in the garage or in a bag for 3 days before diving in—any viruses will likely expire in that time.

The library isn’t limiting access to programming or meeting rooms. If you’re uncomfortable in groups of people or confined spaces, we understand and hope you’ll come back when this threat has passed. You might also consider “social distancing.” That is, keep about 6 feet between you and the nearest person—two arms lengths. That means no handshakes or hugs. Others will understand if you just tell them you’re keeping a safe distance.

Use the drive-through. The Northside Branch on Buckeye Street has a drive-through window. You don’t have to get out of the car! You can send your reserves to that location and the staff will happily hand them to you through the window. You can call ahead and have items waiting for you.

Use self-checkout. Main and Northside have touchscreen computers (which get wiped down often!) that let you check out your own materials. No one else touches your card or items!

And finally, this might be the perfect time to try ebooks. The staff can help you get started. The Hoopla, Libby and Freegal apps are pretty easy to use once you’re logged in and give you access to millions of books, movies and music to stream and/or download. When in doubt, stay in to check out!

For more information, the Ohio Department of Health has established a toll free number to answer questions about Covid19: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH. And locally, the Ross County Health District has created a resources page:

Infographic taken from the Ross County Health District’s website.