Cincinnati's Downtown Main Library Branch Ready to Reopen to In-Person Service

A portion of the Main Branch is ready to reopen to in-person service on July 15 — with COVID health and safety protocols in place

click to enlarge Main Branch - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Main Branch

Recently, some of the Public Libraries of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have started restoring services via curbside and drive-thru pick-up. 

And now, a portion of the Main Branch is ready to reopen to in-person service on July 15. The first floor of both Main branch buildings will be open in targeted use and limited capacity 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (drive-thru will be open those same hours).

In a statement, the library says:

"We are thrilled to restart services to our community. As Library staff, we are committed to open access and being a welcoming and inviting place for all in our community, always prioritizing connecting people with the world of ideas and information. These new procedures are difficult for us and we understand you may feel frustration as well. Please know we are doing our best to balance public health needs and safety with our mission to provide services. As of the week of June 28, many of our staff who were on reduced hours during our closure for in-person service are returning to full hours, though approximately 100 staff members remain furloughed. This means that some of our services may take a little longer than they had in the past."

They are asking guests to enter the South Building from the Walnut Street entrance (the Vine Street entrance is closed). And they say the atrium in that building is designed for “express use.” Library cards are only needed when checking out materials. Services include (per the library):

  • First come, first serve express computer sessions with printing available; this is self-service technology access. Those needing limited assistance will be directed to the North building.
  • Print/Copy/Fax/Scan services; customers are asked to fill out a form indicating the number of copies, scanning, and faxing information needed so staff can copy, scan or fax the items.
  • Charging station for charging personal devices is available with a 30-minute limit. 
  • Request materials at a desk on the first floor; any material housed at the Main Library can be requested. A staff member can retrieve and check out materials for customers.  
  • Customers can pick up holds in the atrium of the South building (go to the Print/Copy/Fax desk for assistance) or via the drive-thru.
  • The drive-thru continues to offer holds pick-up and limited, express pick-up of printouts
  • Restrooms are available with one occupant at a time (or one family with children at a time).
  • Customers not engaged in one of the above services are asked to exit so that additional customers can enter the building, per limited capacity needs. 
  • The maximum length of stay in the atrium is 30 minutes.
  • No open seating is available.

The North Building (between Ninth and Court streets) can be accessed off of Ninth Street and offers (per the library):

  • A greeter to help customers get the most from their visit and understand what is needed.
  • First come, first served one-hour computer sessions with printing available; limited technology assistance is available.  No hands-on personal device help is available. Those needing more extensive help should ask about the option for scheduling a one-on-one tech appointment for more in-depth assistance. During the initial reopening and for at least the first week, sessions are running on a staggered time: 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to allow time for cleaning after use. 
  • While browsing is not intended, customers in the space may stop by the desk on their way out to request children’s materials (adult materials can be checked out in the atrium).
  • Customers not engaged in one of the above services are asked to exit so that additional customers can enter the building per limited capacity needs. 
  • No open seating is available.
  • The maximum length of stay in the North building is one hour.

In addition to these regulations, the library has also implemented more health and safety precautions for guests and staff, including limited capacity, physical distancing, wayfinding signage (to promote distancing), Plexigas barriers at service points, hand sanitizer and more. The staff will also be wearing masks and asks that guests wear masks as well, especially from 10 a.m.-noon on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays, which are the hours they have set aside for older and vulnerable populations. And if you do come with a child, please make sure to supervise them to ensure they are also social distancing.

According to a release, library branches will continue to offer curbside and drive-thru as they phase-in targeted, in-person services. 

Check for more info and any changes or updates that may come as Ohio mandates change.


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