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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Oklahoma County's Metropolitan Library System to close physical locations for at least two weeks

People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]
People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]

UPDATED at 9 p.m. Sunday: A source for the library system has confirmed that staff will be compensated during the closure. The post has been altered accordingly. - BAM

The Metropolitan Library System announced Sunday that all all library locations will close effective 6 p.m. Sunday and will stay closed for at least two weeks, "out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the public."

The Metropolitan Library System is the public library system serving Oklahoma County residents. It includes 19 library branch locations. MLS is the largest library system in Oklahoma, serving anyone who lives, attends school, or owns property in Oklahoma County.

As previously reported, the Metropolitan Library System initially announced on Friday that it was keeping its branches open but canceling all programs and volunteer opportunities through March in response to the pandemic. 

But as The Oklahoman's Adam Kemp reports, the number of infected Oklahomans nearly doubled from Saturday to Sunday as the Oklahoma State Health Department reported three new people tested positive for coronavirus. 

"Decisions like these do not come easy, as it means a temporary loss of access to the in-person learning services and gathering spaces the Library is known for providing to so many in our community," according to a statement from library system officials. 

"However, this does not mean a complete shutdown of Library services. While our physical libraries may be closed, we will continue to provide the many digital services you can access from home, such as e-books and e-audiobooks; streaming movies and TV services; free access to magazines and newspapers; and more."

Access to these digital resources may well be a welcome relief for many Oklahoma County parents as spring break officially begins Monday. Concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that the World Health Organization has designated a global pandemic, has led to waves of cancellations, closures and postponements around the state, country and world. 

"We will be in continued contact with the Library Commission to evaluate our facilities beyond this timeline.  All Library material holds will remain active and Library materials already checked out can be renewed on our website for your convenience," according to the statement. 

"Please do not worry if you have Library materials in your possession that are coming due during this time, late fees will not accrue during this period of library closure."

Staff will be compensated during the closure, Anthony Herron, deputy executive director of operations, confirmed in an email. 

In addition to library locations being closed the following directives remain in place:

  • Discontinued library outreach to places throughout our community through the end of March.
  • Canceled public meeting room bookings through the end of March.
  • Suspended volunteer opportunities at our libraries until the end of March, including Friends of the Library volunteers.
  • Suspended book donations to the libraries and sort site until the end of March.  

"Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing. We are at an unprecedented moment in our city, state, and country. At this time of uncertainty, MLS is continuing to keep all those impacted by the virus in our thoughts. For those of you who interact with our wonderful staff, please note that we are looking at ways of utilizing their talents during this time and are being considerate of their health and well-being," according to a statement from the library system. 

"We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of illness throughout our libraries and that includes ensuring that we are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control regarding social distancing."

For more information, go to  www.metrolibrary.org.

-BAM 

Related Photos
People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]

People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7d777248978d59a5ccd6b2d2ea189c67.jpg" alt="Photo - People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]" title="People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]"><figcaption>People work on computers in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library Friday, March 21, 2014. [The Oklahoman Archives]</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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