South Charleston: Library building reopens with new rules and hours

(Posted July 6, 2020)

All branches of the Clark County Public Library system, including Houston Library in South Charleston, reopened their buildings to the public on June 24.

This represents the second phase of the system’s reopening plan. The first phase was curbside service which is still available for patrons who prefer it.

Tammy Harshbarger, manager of the Houston Branch, said business was a little slow the first few days after the branch opened its doors, but she said she expects it to pick up.

“I think customers are happy that we’re back open. During curbside pickup, we had a lot of people asking when we were going to open,” she said.

When patrons visit the library, they’ll notice a different atmosphere. Most of the furniture has been removed for the time being to promote social distancing and limit activities that do not support the main purpose of borrowing materials. New rules and schedules are in place, as well.


A new schedule allows the library to be open for 90 minutes and then closed for 30 minutes so that staff can organize, clean and disinfect library spaces. The following schedule is in place at the Houston branch (these hours are temporary and subject to change):

  • Monday-Thursday–10-11:30 a.m., 12-1:30 p.m., 2-3:30 p.m., 4-5:30 p.m., 6-7:30 p.m.;
  • Friday-Saturday–10-11:30 a.m., 1-2:30 p.m., 3-4:30 p.m.

Services and Restrictions

Patrons are welcome to visit the library to pick out books, movies and other items to borrow and enjoy at home. The library is offering extremely limited computer use from its OPAC catalog stations (IRS, Census and unemployment sites).

Some library services that require close person-to-person interaction, present concerns about maintaining sanitized surfaces, or patron activities that do not support the initial purpose of borrowing materials are not being offered or allowed at this time. Leisure reading, studying and researching, and using the wi-fi for an extended period are not allowed during this reopening phase. Additionally, no gatherings or meetings can take place at the library.

The library system made the following concessions in order to reopen to the public:          • no Internet computers;

  • no cell phone charging stations;
  • no newspapers;
  • no in-library classes or events;
  • no public meeting rooms;
  • no credit card or debit card payments;
  • no drinking fountains except bottle filler stations.

Local history materials remain unavailable to the public. Patrons can access the library’s online research sites. Email the local history librarian at with questions. Bookmobile services remain suspended. Homebound library service has resumed with all possible safety precautions.

Regarding public computer use during this reopening phase, Internet areas at all Clark County Public Library locations are not available at this time as the library installs new software, scanning and credit card equipment. It is expected to be up and running by mid-July.

Patrons are not to bring books, CDs or other materials to be returned into the building. Patrons must continue to use the book drop to return items so that staff can handle items in a careful manner. Additionally, the library is asking that a parent or guardian accompany children younger than 12 at all times while visiting the library.

Safety Measures

Safety measures the library system has put in place include:

  • All books, DVDs, and other library materials that are borrowed and then returned are cleaned and sanitized, then quarantined for at least 72 hours prior to being put back on library shelves.
  • Plexiglass protective barriers have been installed at service desks.
  • Social distancing measures have been put in place at service desks.
  • Surface areas are cleaned and sanitized every 90 minutes and after closing time.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the library.
  • Library staff are required to participate in a daily health assessment when working. They must wear face coverings while working. They are directed to stay home if they have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The library system strongly recommends that patrons also wear protective items.

Summer Reading Programs

The library’s summer reading program for children began July 1 and runs through July 31. This year’s program is completely online with no sign-up required. The children’s portion of the program is open to ages birth to 12 years old. Children or their parent/caregiver must email entries each week to Include the child’s name, age, phone number, school, how they heard about the program, and the number of hours of reading for the week. The teens portion of the program is open to ages 13-18; participants should include the same information as listed above when sending in their entries, but instead of hours, they should report book titles to Audio books and E-books can be counted.

A drawing for a $15 gift card is being held each week for the children’s and teens’ programs. A child gets one entry for the grand prizes for every five hours they have read. Each teen entry also will be entered into the drawing for grand prizes to be awarded in early August. Grand prizes for children are a LEGO set or combo of sets, a drone, and a tablet. The grand prizes for teens are an Amazon gift card, a drone, and a tablet.

The library’s summer reading program for adults is in full swing. There are a few changes to this year’s program, but the enjoyment of reading remains the same. The program is for ages 18 and older. Through July 31, patrons can submit their entries weekly to the library at Include your name, phone number and the number of books read for that week. Audio books and e-books may be included. DVDs are excluded. One drawing for a $15 gift card is being made each week for all returned entries from each location. All entries will be entered into the grand prize drawing which will be held in early August. Grand prizes include a Kindle, $75 Walmart gift card, and $50 Amazon gift card.

The Houston Branch of the Clark County Public Library is located at 5 W. Jamestown St., South Charleston. For more information, call (937) 462-8047.

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