By Ronda Wertman


Tribune Correspondent


KEYSER - Mineral County’s libraries have reopened their doors to five patrons at a time, but will also continue to offer curbside service in order to best meet the needs of the local community.


Visitors coming into the Keyser library will see a new desk area designed to protect staff and patrons from close contact.


At the Keyser, Burlington and Fort Ashby libraries, social distancing is a must. Hours for each branch include:


Keyser: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Burlington: Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 11a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and


Fort Ashby: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


In all locations there are special guidelines which must be followed as part of the COVID-19 reopening.


"We ask that books being returned be put in the book drop before coming into the library," said director Heather Haynes.


For those wishing to utilize the computer systems, access will be limited to ensure enough space between stations, and patrons will have a 30-minute time limit.


"We will not be handling personal items such as cell phones or tablets and will be offering computer help only while maintaining social distancing guidelines," says Haynes.


In order to ensure the safety of staff and library guests the library is not taking any book donations at this time and no public restroom facilities are available.


"We will still be offering interlibrary loans, as long as the loaning library is open. We will continue to stock the bookshelf out front with free books, as we have during the entire closure," said Haynes as the response to the pandemic continues.


"We want to ensure the safety of our patrons and staff as much as possible," said Haynes. "We ask that no one come to the library with a fever, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, or other COVID-19 symptoms or who has knowingly been exposed to or come in contact with COVID-19."


Due to the virus, all libraries are removing all fines caused by the closure.


While face to face programs involving groups have been postponed at this time, the libraries are continuing to find new ways to reach out.


The summer reading programs at Keyser and Burlington are currently on hold till July amidst changing guidelines, but Fort Ashby’s program got underway June 5 and will continue through July 31.


Patrons can download the "Imagine Your Story" Summer Reading Program information packet at http://fortashby.lib.wb.us/summerprogram.html or pick up the paper work at the Fort Ashby library. The program is open to readers of all ages Pre-K through adult.


Fort Ashby has also started doing Facebook story times. Each story time will have a theme and an activity packet to go with it. These packets can be picked up at the library. Patrons are encouraged to follow the library’s Facebook page for more information.


Burlington is going to start creating programming packets for their patrons to pick up and Keyser is continuing its virtual Story Time with Ms. Heather.


While this has been a difficult challenging time for the library, the staff are very appreciative of the support from the community


"The library would like to thank its patrons for being patient during this difficult time and for embracing curbside service. All the librarians greatly appreciate it," said Haynes.


"I would also like to thank the patrons who have gone out of their way to still make donations towards our match during this trying time. On behalf of the Keyser-Mineral County Library System (Keyser, Burlington and Fort Ashby) we sincerely thank you," she added of the dollar for dollar match, which is needed for matching state funds each year.