Updated Thursday, March 19, 5:50 p.m.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County closed all of its facilities starting Friday evening, March 13 at 6 p.m. because of COVID-19 concerns. At first those locations were to remain shut for at least a week, but on Thursday, the library sent an email saying it would be closed through April 3.
"The latest information from the governor’s office, which indicates that aggressive early social distancing can stop COVID-19 from exponentially spreading, helped us make this decision," Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe director of the library said last week. "This was a very difficult decision that we did not make without much careful deliberation."
Library leaders will reassess the closures on a weekly basis based on information from health officials.
A staff member at the library's distribution center has voluntarily self-quarantined. But there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 with the library staff, and no reported cases of such exposure.
The library is asking customers to hold their materials until further notice, and due dates will be extended so there won't be fines.
"We encourage our customers to use our robust eBranch, which features digital versions of books, audiobooks, music, movies, magazines and more," says Brehm-Heeger. "We’re redirecting more of our funds towards digital content to make sure even more digital resources are available for our customers during this time."
County residents can sign up for a free library card online, and use the library's eBranch as soon as they receive their confirmation email.
All library staff not reporting to work during the closure to the public will be paid for their regularly scheduled hours based on the Library’s Absence Because of Emergency Closing Policy.