Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to Close Due to Coronavirus Concerns

The library is suspending late fees and will compensate employees for their scheduled hours during the shutdown.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's downtown branch - Hailey Bollinger
Hailey Bollinger
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's downtown branch

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will close all of its 41 locations at 6 p.m. today in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

The library will remain open as a polling location for March 17 primary election. All library staff will be compensated for the hours they were scheduled for, per library policy.

The library will reassess its closure on a weekly basis.

“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," Library Director Paula Brehm-Heeger said in a statement. "Declarations of city-wide and county-wide states of emergency, as well as the voluntary self- quarantine of a staff member, also convinced us that this closure is in the best interest of public safety. This was a very difficult decision that we did not make without much careful deliberation."

One library distribution worker has voluntarily self-isolated, the library says, though there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among library staff and no known incidents of staff exposure. 

The library is suspending due dates so items will not incur late fees and asking patrons to keep borrowed materials until further notice. 

“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.”

*A previous version of this article stated that the library was directly suspending late fees versus suspending due dates

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