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FAQ: Library closing due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

(This information will be updated as developments occur. To learn more about coronavirus, visit these local, state and federal sites. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.)

On March 17, following two days of staff planning, the Elkhart Public Library board made the difficult decision to close all five locations to the public through April 12. This Q&A is designed to help library users navigate the closing – if you don’t see the answer you need, please contact us.

When will the library open? 
We hope Monday, April 13, will be the day the library opens again for business as usual. Right now, conditions relating to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are evolving rapidly. Library leadership and staff believe it’s in the best interests of everyone to adhere to the government recommendations regarding public places.

I have stuff that is due. Am I going to get overdue fines?
No. We are extending a grace period going back to March 9 and will be waiving those fines in our system. Then, after we reopen, people will have a week or so to get back into the flow and return what’s been borrowed. As always, kids and teens materials are fine free.

Can I bring back my overdue books? 
Yes. We have drop boxes next to the parking lots at each of our five locations. All we ask is that you please not leave items outside the boxes. 

Can you increase the number of checkouts on Hoopla?
This is an emphatic yes. During our emergency closing, we will allow each library cardholder up to eight checkouts on Hoopla, our streaming service for music, shows, audiobooks and more.

I hit my limit on Hoopla – now what?
We have a question for you: Have you checked out rbDigital and Libby for Overdrive? These great services have your next great read, with no limits and automatic returns. In Overdrive alone, we offer 5,300 ebooks and 1,100 audiobooks … and growing every day. We’re dedicating more of our purchasing power to these online resources to meet the demand during this closing and for the future. 

What’s in the Digital Library?
For starters, get your daily news and perspective from PressReader. Start crafting with Creativebug by Joann Fabrics. Start working on that family tree with a whole stack of genealogy resources. Learn a new language with Pronunciator. Dream big, go far … and it’s always available with an EPL card.

Can I sign up for a library card and try it online?
Yes! Our new Digital Services Card allows residents to register online. You’ll get an ID number and the info you need to start streaming, reading and exploring the Digital Library. This card is free – one per household, and cardholder must live or go to school inside the Elkhart Public Library district.

I can’t remember my PIN. Can you help?
During our closing, we have worked with our providers to eliminate the need to enter a PIN. On some applications, we aren’t quite there. If you need help, please refer to this post. If that doesn’t work, contact us and be sure to include which service you’re trying to access.

Can I pick up a book I have on hold?
This also was one of the many things we discussed in our staff planning leading up to the closing. Right now, we have no plans to make this happen.

But what about my hold?
We have been working with our service provider to keep the line in place. So, if you were notified already, your hold will be available for pickup when we reopen. If you’re getting close to the front of the line on the holds list, you’ll stay there – no need to place another hold.

Can I still place holds in the catalog?
Sure. Just log in, search and request – that process hasn’t changed.

Is the library staff still working?
Emphatic yes! Our buildings closed to the public, but really that means they are restricted to staff only. Librarians are working on local history files, acquiring new materials, entering all the Digital Services Cards requests, answering the usual reference questions, helping people resolve tech issues and navigate the Digital Library, developing online storytimes, and more. The IT crew is doing their thing, upgrading machines and software, maintaining servers, and keeping everything running for those working in the building and remotely. Our facilities staff is working on long-term maintenance projects, and administrators are meeting daily to provide board members with information and keep tabs on current info. Plus, we’re all getting ready for our signature program – summer reading.

Will programs start back up April 13?
We have made the decision to cancel or suspend all programs through April 30, just to continue on the safe side of social distancing and group gatherings. We apologize for the inconvenience, but for a while, our community needs to take this precaution. Watch our Facebook page for program announcements and rescheduling. 

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