Suwannee River Regional Library System

Suwannee River Regional Library System

LIVE OAK — The methodical, conservative plan to re-open the Suwannee River Regional Library System has been sped up a little bit.

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners gave Director Betty Lawrence the go-ahead at Tuesday’s regular board meeting to move into Phase 2 (curbside service) of the library re-opening today with Phase 3 (allowing patrons inside the library on an appointment basis) scheduled to begin June 1.

Lawrence told the board that the plan she and County Administrator Randy Harris had discussed would likely include a couple of weeks with the curbside pickup in place before looking into Phase 3.

“Depending on how things are we’d then go into appointments,” she said, adding she would follow the board’s direction.

However, Ricky Gamble, the commissioner from District 3, said he would like to see the library move into that third phase “as soon as we can.” Gamble said he had heard from the homeschool community that students were hoping to be able to utilize the libraries’ services, adding a lot of other businesses have been allowed to open.

“I would like to move forward with at lest helping the homeschool students and any other students by taking appointments,” Gamble said, adding he has looked through the library’s plan and agreed with taking a conservative approach. “I’m just wanting us to get to Phase 3 a little sooner rather than later.”

Don Hale, the District 1 commissioner, said he has received similar requests.

“If you want to do that, go ahead,” Harris said. “We’re going to take a very methodical approach, try to watch and gauge what’s going on with this virus in the community.

“The curbside is a very disciplined, very methodical approach to getting materials to people and allowing them to bring materials back to the dropbox.”

Lawrence, in response to a question from District 2 commissioner Clyde Fleming, said the library staff that has already returned to work had no problem with speeding up the re-opening process.

“They’re anxious and they, too, get a lot of phone calls,” she said, adding that utilizing appointments during Phase 3 still allowed the library control of the situation.

“It would be in a very safe manner. I think it would be good for us to try it now, with the understanding, that if we had to adjust, we adjust.”

The June 1 date to re-open allows library staff time to finish preparations, which Lawrence said would be needed, including posting signage about social distancing as well as continuing to restock shelves as as items were first started being returned last week in the first phase of the re-opening. She previously told the board that 20,000 items had been checked out and needed to be returned.

Through the libraries’ curbside service, patrons can place holds on items online at or by call their local library. Once the items are pulled, staff will call patrons to schedule a pickup time. At the pickup time, the bagged items will be placed in the pickup cart in front of the library. This will be a no contact pickup.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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