Coronavirus impacts local libraries

| March 17, 2020 11:30 PM

WENATCHEE — Grant County libraries closed for at least six weeks on Monday evening.

The North Central Regional Library announced the closure Friday, which also affected Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Ferry counties. The closure was scheduled to begin Monday night, March 16, and last until April 24.

“Public libraries have always been about community, and the safety of our communities is paramount,” Executive Director Barbara Walters said in a press release.

The press release also said that plans are being made for library staff to work and be paid throughout the closure. All due dates for books and other library materials are extended until April 24.

The closure comes in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s order Friday afternoon that closed all K-12 schools statewide and the cancellations of public gatherings.

On Friday, March 13, the Mid-Columbia Libraries, including the Othello library, announced in a press release that they would only be offering transaction-related services. All events and other uses of the Othello library, including the use of public computers, have been canceled. As of Friday, libraries will be open regular hours.

“We take the health of our community and our staff seriously. Our hope is that by limiting access, we can continue to serve our communities consistent with public health guidelines and directives,” said Kyle Cox, executive director and chief librarian, in the press release. “I encourage all those who can to access our digital collection of more than 100,000 eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and streaming video. The library is a great way to engage your mind during this turbulent time.”

Up-to-date information on how local libraries are responding to COVID-19 is available on their websites.