Library opens with reduced services and staff

Beginning Monday, July 20, limited in-person library services returned to the Downtown Main Library. And then 37 of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s 41 locations will open in a similar fashion one week later – Monday, July 27. Due to their building sizes, the Mt. Healthy and Elmwood Place branches are remaining closed for in-person services; however, those locations are offering curbside service beginning Monday, Aug. 3. The Greenhills Branch is offering curbside service only until school begins. The Price Hill Branch remains closed while it’s under renovation. 

Due to the limited service it is able to provide at this time, the library is furloughing 58 staff members from the Downtown Main Library’s Genealogy & Local History, Information & Reference and Youth Services departments, along with the floaters/substitutes pool. Managers in these four departments are not being furloughed to ensure there is no interruption in service to the community. No staff member is being terminated, laid off, or having their hours reduced at this time, and there will be no additional staffing changes to other departments or positions not listed above. 

These changes go into effect immediately, and until further notice. Furloughed staff members are being compensated through the end of the pay period ending July 25.

At the beginning of the pandemic, while its buildings were completely closed, the library reduced hours for 435 non-exempt staff down to 25 percent, and furloughed 106 part-time staff who typically worked 12 or fewer hours per week. Reduced-hours staff members were brought back to full hours June 28 to prepare for offering in-person services. 

Paula Brehm-Heeger

“The pandemic isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so we expect to be operating in this limited in-person capacity for the foreseeable future,” said Director Paula Brehm-Heeger. “The difficult decision to furlough some staff comes from our need to be good stewards of the tax dollars that fund our organization. We look forward to providing more robust service to the community as soon as we are able.” 

As locations open for in-person services, customers will notice the following changes: 

  • The library is providing a free mask if a customer needs one. A mask order is currently in effect for all of Hamilton County. 
  • Customers and staff are expected to practice physical distancing at all times. Furniture has been spaced out to accommodate this and items like plexiglass barriers have been installed. 
  • Each facility has a lower maximum capacity. 
  • Customers are asked to limit their visits to one hour. 
  • Customers have access to computers, printers, and faxes, as well as the ability to browse and pick up holds. 
  • Increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols are in place. Hand sanitizer is available for customers and staff. 
  • HVAC system blowers have been increased to maximize airflow. 
  • We are not accepting groups at this time, and we are not offering in-person programs or events. 
  • Curbside and drive-thru services are still being offered at all in-person locations. 
  • Special hours for vulnerable populations are now Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon. 

“As library staff, we are committed to open access and being a welcoming and inviting place for all in our community, always prioritizing connecting people with the world of ideas and information,” said Brehm-Heeger. “These new procedures are difficult for us and we understand you may feel frustration as well. Please know we are doing our best to balance public health needs and safety with our mission to provide services.” 

In addition to limited in-person service, the library’s eBranch is always open, and the library continues to provide virtual events for all age groups, including live and recorded online storytimes for children on a regular basis. Virtual events calendar

Customers can also call, email, or chat with library staff seven days a week for help with job searches, finding trusted health information, getting assistance with a library resource, and more. or @cincylibrary

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