Jackson’s libraries will begin opening on a limited capacity Wednesday, with the flagship of the Jackson-Hinds Library System expected to be the first to reopen to the public.
The Eudora Welty Library in downtown Jackson is slated to open at 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 3, for limited services.
The system will have staggered openings, with two libraries reopening each week. The Willie Morris Library in Northeast Jackson slated to open on Tuesday, June 9.
Libraries will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and will be limited to 50 percent normal capacities. The library will be open until 5 p.m. on Friday, per state fire marshal regulations.
Employees will complete intensive training before reopening. The system also will have fogging machines to sterilize library systems after closing each day.
"Our library staff has missed our patrons so much, and we can't wait to welcome them back," Executive Director Patty Furr said.
Officials with the system announced the news June 1, the same day businesses across the state were allowed to reopen under the governor's latest COVID-related executive order. Gov. Tate Reeves had previously giving libraries permission to reopen, but Furr said the system needed time to train employees to follow federal and state health safety guidelines.
Staffers will be required to wear masks and gloves. Patrons also will be required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer before entering. Security guards and the branches will test individuals for fever using surface thermometers, and will ask questions regarding potential symptoms and infections.
“Access will be limited. There will be no tables, no chairs, no papers, no magazines,” she said. “Only the circulation desk, the stacks, the bathrooms and the computer area will be reopened.”
Fax and copying services, as well as reference services also will be available.
Furr said the Welty Library will be limited to 50 percent capacity, meaning only 70 people will be allowed on the building's first floor at one time. That number includes staffers, she said.
She said libraries across the country are opening in a similar manner.
Meanwhile, residents interested in using the branch’s computers will be limited to 90 minutes of screen time, and keyboards will be sanitized after each use, she explained.
Furr said openings are being staggered, in part, to ensure that employees are trained to follow government guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Welty had already been reduced to one floor at the direction of the state fire marshal.