Fort Bend County Libraries began the process of re-opening buildings on Thursday, Nov. 5.
Phase 2 of the re-opening plan involves opening four libraries throughout the county — George Memorial Library in Richmond, Cinco Ranch Branch Library in Katy, the Missouri City Branch Library, and the Sienna Branch Library —for Grab-and-Go services only.
These four Grab-and-Go libraries will re-open with limited capacity to patrons. To reduce the possibility of exposure, patrons are required to conduct library business and exit the premises in a timely manner.
The Books & More Curbside Pick-Up service will continue to be available at all locations. Visitors are encouraged to continue using contact-free options whenever possible.
“We miss all of our patrons, and we know how important our libraries are to their daily lives,” says Library Director Clara Russell. “We want to return to “normal” service as soon as possible, but this needs to happen in phases so that we can keep everyone safe and healthy.”
During Phase 2, in the four Grab-and-Go libraries that are open, patrons will be able to:
- Browse first-floor collections;
- Complete a library-card application in person to apply for or renew your library card or update your address;
- Pay fines/fees of $5 and up with a credit card (Mastercard/VISA/Discover) at the circulation desk. Cash will not be accepted;
- Make copies, scan, or fax documents;
- Use a computer and print – by reservation only; 2-hour limit; only one session is allowed per day. Reserve by calling the library or reserving online on the FBCL website; requires a library card (full-service or eCard);
- Ask questions at the Reference Desk;
Mobile WiFi hotspots and Launchpads are available for check out on a first-come, first-served basis to Fort Bend County residents.
A limited number of patrons will be allowed into the four open libraries at a time, as determined by the reduced capacity requirements for each building.
Only the first floor of these buildings will be accessible to the public.
Patrons who enter the library building are required to wear a mask and follow all social-distancing guidelines. Everyone entering the buildings will start at the health-screening station; hand sanitizer is also available.
Other safety precautions during Phase 2 Grab-and-Go include the following:
· Computers will be spaced apart so that social distancing is observed. Computer sessions will be limited to two hours, and each station will be cleaned on a set schedule throughout the day. Children/patrons will not be able to wait in the library while someone else uses a computer.
· Casual seating, lounging areas, and study tables will not be available.
· Meeting rooms and study rooms will not be open.
· Cash cannot be accepted for fines or fees.
· Programming and events for children, teens, and adults will remain online and in virtual formats.
· Donations of books cannot be accepted at this time.
· Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Keeping community health and safety in mind, FBCL staff will continue to take extensive precautions to ensure a safe and germ-free environment for everyone, including checking staff temperatures upon their arrival at the building, wearing masks, washing hands, disinfecting hard surfaces and workstations, and quarantining returned materials.
Books, mobile WiFi hotspots, Launchpads, and interlibrary-loan materials should be returned in the outside book drop. Hotspots and Launchpads must be returned to the same library from which they were checked out. Book bins will sit untouched before books will be checked in; additional overdue/late fees will not accrue.
As always, patrons have instant access to eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, movies, and magazines through the libraries’ digital collections – hoopla, OverDrive, and Flipster – as well as online resources, databases, and Brainfuse Homework Help.
In addition, the following programs and services are available at ALL library locations throughout the county:
Check out books, DVDs, or CDs;
Use the online library-card application to apply for or renew your library card or update your address;
Use the online library-card application to upgrade an eCard to a full-service library card;
Pick up new library cards through the curbside pick-up service after the online library-card application has been processed;
Library staff continue to be available virtually by phone, email, or online chat to assist patrons;
WiFi can be accessed from the parking lots of the libraries;
Mobile WiFi hotspots are available for check out on a first-come, first-served basis to Fort Bend County residents;
Utilize the curbside pick-up service;
Request Interlibrary loans (ILLs);
Return books, hotspots, and ILLs in the outdoor book drop;
Readers can participate in livestreamed book clubs in real time via Zoom/WebEx;
Adult computer how-to videos are accessible from the website.
“FBCL serves a large number of residents throughout the county, so we are being very thoughtful and deliberate with our re-opening plans,” says Russell. “These are our friends and neighbors, and we’re going to do everything in our power to expand library services while keeping our staff and communities safe.”
Fort Bend County Libraries initially closed on March 20 out of concern for the health and safety of patrons and staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The libraries initiated Phase 1 of the re-opening plan on May 4, when the Books & More! Curbside Pick-Up service resumed.
“Under our gradual re-opening plan, we have no specific dates set for the beginning of the next phases,” says Russell. “We’re moving toward expanding in-person services in a responsible way that focuses on safety. Decisions about proceeding forward into the next phase will depend on various factors, always with safety for everyone as our main concern.”
The hours for the four Grab-and-Go locations, as well as for the remaining Curbside-Service-only locations, are as follows:
· Mon-Thu – 9 am-6 pm;
Fri – 9 am-5 pm;
Sat – 9 am-5 pm at all locations EXCEPT at the Albert George Branch Library (Needville), the Mamie George Branch Library (Stafford), and the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library. For these branches, the Saturday hours are 9 am-1 pm;
Sun – CLOSED (all locations).
For more information, see the Fort Bend County Libraries website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us) or call the library system’s Communications Office (281-633-4734).