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COVID-19 FAQ: Library reopens for limited use

(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.)

All five Elkhart Public Library buildings now have open hours six days a week for people to browse and make use of services. Remote learning students in K-12 and college are invited to use our spaces, as well.

Masks and physical distancing will be required of all visitors. People browsing books and other items are asked to keep their library use to 30 minutes unless they have an appointment for specific business.

Open hours (exceptions for appointments, as stated below)
Monday – 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.
Tuesday – 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.
Wednesday – 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.
Thursday – 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 7 p.m.
Friday – 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 6 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

We welcome your questions via our contact page, and you can keep up with the latest developments on social media.

This Q&A is designed to help library users navigate the closing – if you don’t see the answer you need, please let us know.

NEW – What should I expect when I walk into the library?
First, you’ll notice the signs on the walkway to the front doors indicating we are requiring masks inside the library for all staff and visitors. This is in keeping with public health recommendations and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order.

Visitors will be greeted, hand sanitizing stations will be visible, and arrows and X’s mark the appropriate paths and checkout spots.

Our Board of Trustees and management team have adopted action plans to make sure our facilities remain welcoming environments while offering the safest possible conditions for public health. This includes an employee health screening protocol.

While our five locations will have limited hours, several efforts will continue to provide these two new services for the community:

* Curbside pickup Read all about it by clicking here. Cardholders with items on hold may pick up materials at our five locations. Get your place in line by holding items – including, for a limited time, up to five DVDs – through our catalog.

* Computer access – Our downtown computer center and four neighborhood branches are available six days a week. Some stations will be open for walk-ins, but users are encouraged to make appointments to ensure a seat. Staff will be able to assist on a limited basis, and appointments for 30 minutes will be restricted to essential business, such as the filing of state and federal paperwork. The library also offers remote printing services, and pickup can be scheduled. Fax service also is now available at all locations by appointment.

Can I sit and read or use the meeting spaces?
We want you to “Book It” and keep your visits to 30 minutes or less to allow as many community members as possible to visit. You will be able to browse in the aisles, and standing areas will allow for easier reading of magazines and newspapers.

NEW – But you have tables and chairs out – who can use those?
We have reserved spaces for students doing remote learning. These spots are first-come, first-served, and students need to bring their own device, charging cord, and headphones for use during video conferences, etc. We will supply the tables, chairs, outlets and wifi connections for students, and our librarians will be able to answer questions about accessing our Digital Library with student ecards.

Children under 7 must be accompanied at all times by a caregiver 14 or older, per library policy. Children ages 8-10 must have a caregiver 14 or older in the building.

UPDATED – Will you be having programs, or can I reserve the meeting rooms for my own?
Our board and leadership strongly agree to heed the governor’s advice on gatherings. We will not be looking at scheduling inside programs until overall conditions change.

Meeting rooms are available on a very limited basis.

With all steps, the library will enforce protocols – including adherence to the governor’s Mask Up Hoosiers campaign – to help staff and visitors enjoy as healthy of an environment as possible.

When the library is open, what health precautions should I expect?
Like most stores, we have installed plastic dividers at each of our service points. We will have floor markings for social distancing at checkout, and ask that you observe the minimum 6-foot distancing rule. Everyone will be wearing a mask. We’ll be using disinfectant on surfaces like door handles and countertops frequently.

Basically, we want you and our staff to be safe and healthy. The situation is ever-changing – please refer to and observe all CDC guidelines and recommendations.

Does coronavirus live on books and plastic media cases?
Our staff in charge of curbside pickups have reviewed information from the CDC and a federal agency called the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Some public-health experts say the virus can live for 24 hours on some surfaces. With an abundance of caution, we have decided wait about 72 hours before allowing items to be checked out again.

UPDATED – I have stuff that is due. Am I going to get overdue fines?
With curbside pickup and the need to have items available for other customers when placed on hold, we have returned to charging overdue fines. If you have questions about your account, please contact us. As always, kids and teens materials are fine free. Due to the waiting period, some items may show on your account as overdue, but no fines will be assessed if the materials have been returned.

How can I safely bring back my borrowed items? 
We’re asking all library items still be returned to the 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. 

If you do carry your items into the library, please look for the return box for immediate placement.

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?
Yes! You may now sign up for a full access library card online. Fill out the quick form on the page and we’ll let you know when your card is ready for pickup. If you prefer a more traditional route, you can come in to any location and pick up a form, even during curbside pick up. This card is free and the 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 still place holds in the catalog?
Sure. Just log in, search and request – that process hasn’t changed. We’ll let you know when the item is ready for curbside pickup. If you need help placing a hold, watch this helpful video.