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Pratt library opens, Kiowa County offers curbside service

Fran Brownell and Jennifer Stultz

Libraries around Kansas opened to the public this week. Pratt Public Library at 401 South Jackson reopened its doors on Friday, May 8, ending an almost eight-week C0VID-19-mandated shutdown. Several library locations in Kiowa County began offering curbside service on May 11, an exciting option for patrons in Greensburg, Mullinville and Haviland.

“We’re not experiencing a lot of foot traffic yet and our public areas provided for reading newspapers are closed, but books and materials are available for checkout as usual,” said Head Librarian Eric Killough. “But the coffee pot’s not on—that’s a bummer.”

Lifelong Pratt resident and Pratt Library Patron Marie Grimes was one of the visitors who stopped by on re-opening day.

“I like to come at least once a month,” Grimes said. “I enjoy being here and it’s convenient.”

Killough said that to assure safety of both patrons and themselves, the five library staffers are taking recommended precautions.

“I consulted with the Pratt County Health Department and shared my action plan for reopening,” Killough said.

The safety precautions include no congregating allowed, no materials available for in-library reading and computers spaced in accordance with social distancing protocols.

Although regular programming of activities has been suspended, the Maker Space is available for use by reservation, one patron at a time, and craft kits are also available to library patrons for at-home projects.

Both Killough and Abigail Skiles, processing and circulation clerk, are still offering tutoring through social media.

Killough said his primary frustration with the COVID-19 situation is that the library is not able to provide programming for children’s activities.

“That’s always been my focus,” Killough said.

All things considered, Killiough is happy to invite everyone back.

“New books are coming in. We’re keeping the library clean. We’re open to suggestions as how to best serve the community,” Killough said.

The Pratt Public Library staff is rounded out by Children’s Librarian LeAnn Holland, Activities Director Derese McAbee, Teen Zone Clerk Marsha Barker and Processing Clerk Ellen Hair.

In Kiowa County, public library locations in Greensburg, Mullinville and Haviland are now offering a curbside pickup option. While all library buildings remain closed to the public, patrons can reserve library materials online or by calling or emailing the library.

“We’re excited to get reading material back into people’s hands,” said director Cassie Gamble. “While we have seen an increase in digital checkouts, there is just something about holding a physical book that people have been missing.”

Cardholders may visit the library’s website at kiowacounty.biblionix.com to reserve items. Holds can also be placed by phone or email during normal business hours. When items are ready, library staff will call patrons to schedule a pickup time. Curbside pickup times vary based on library branch.

“When you arrive at the library, expect to see staff members wearing masks. We ask that you not use curbside pickup if you have COVID-19, are currently in quarantine due to exposure, or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus,” said Gamble.

Curbside pickup times are as follows: Monday - Friday, 11a.m. to 5 p.m. at Greensburg; Monday - Friday, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Haviland; Monday - Friday, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Mullinville.

Gamble said that pickups will be at the front doors of the Haviland and Mullinville libraries, while Greensburg will use the library's back door. Patrons are asked to park in the back parking lot (east side of building) in Greensburg.

Patrons should remain in their vehicles during delivery. Those without vehicles must maintain social distancing while library staff are outside the building. Follow Kiowa County Library on Facebook for updates.