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County library system postpones book sale, has policy to resume services

Each spring, the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library sells second hand books to raise money so the staff can purchase new library books. Like many other events, the book sale scheduled for this week has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may be rescheduled for the fall, said Kathy Younes with the Friends of the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library.

Books for the sale have already been collected, but the volunteers will have to wait to sell them. The sale typically generates $5,000 to purchase new library books, said Pearl River County Library System Director Carol Phares.

No new or old books are coming into the library presently, because the library is not receiving any packages and the book drop for returning checked out books is closed, said Phares. Patrons will not have to pay any library fines accrued after March 14 since books cannot be returned at this time.

Even though physical library books are unavailable, residents can still check out ebooks or audio books digitally through Hoopla, or read magazines digitally through RBdigital, which can be accessed on the library’s website. Patrons can use their library cards to access the digital resources.

The library began offering ebooks shortly after closing its physical doors. Staff were already working to make ebooks available as part of a grant from the Mississippi Library Commission, but library staff worked hard after the closures to make the online resources available sooner, said Phares.

“Every last employee has picked up and done what they can. They have taken books to repair (at) home. They have taken books to be catalogued and processed home,” said Phares. “Everybody’s working and they’re working hard for the public. We didn’t want to let them down.”

The grant will end in a year which might end library access to ebooks, but Phares is hopeful the Board of Supervisors and the municipal governments will give the county library system enough funding next year so it can continue to offer ebooks and audio books through Hoopla.

Not everyone has Internet access, which is especially a concern for the library system’s summer reading program, which has gone digital, said Phares. People can access library Wifi from the library’s parking lot.

It is unclear when the libraries will be able to open the physical doors again, but the reopening will be gradual. First the book drop will reopen. After being checked in, returned books will undergo a two week quarantine before being placed back on the shelves to ensure library books do not spread COVID-19, said Phares.

In the next phase, the library will allow people to make appointments to use the computers, and patrons will be allowed to check out physical books again by calling the library and having books brought to their cars.

The library will be increasing how frequently the computers and circulation desk are sanitized and will install a sneeze guard at the circulation desk.

Since library staff are working from their home, the library’s phones are not being answered. Patrons with library questions can reach Phares by email at cphares@pearlriver.lib.ms.us or by texting or calling her at 601-916-0473.