By Christine Arena

Dispatch from the Library

Creating a sense of normalcy in a time of unprecedented concern and confusion is not easy but we’ve been striving to do it since late March when we followed local and state directives to close our buildings and Bookmobile. Although serving the public in-person is our passion, we haven’t let stay-at-home mandates impede our service. During the last two-plus months, we have:

Produced, using our 3D printer, head frames for PPE face shields for first responders with the Franklin County Department of Public Safety.

Planned implementation of a new, state-of-the-art automated system for the public to easily access library resources. This system will save the county $15,000 annually.

Installed a customer-friendly circulation desk in the children’s department at our Rocky Mount location. Funded in part by our Friends of the Library, the desk is physically welcoming to children and will enable staff to provide more responsive service.

Hosted online “socially distant, literately close” reading groups to support social connection and reading among the public.

Created a permanent reference collection on Booker T. Washington at our Rocky Mount location. By partnering with the Booker T. Washington National Monument, we’ve assembled a repository of historical materials about one of Franklin County’s most important figures.

We’re also providing contactless, curbside pickup service at our Rocky Mount and Westlake locations. Simply call 483-3098 to check out books, audiobooks, and DVDs or place holds online. Call us, too, to sign up for a library card you can start using immediately. Try out one of our weekly grab-and-go book bags. Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., we announce on Facebook grab bags containing books grouped by theme, such as mysteries, biographies and romances. Each bag includes five surprise titles from our collection for adult readers. For children, we offer Kids’ Carry-Outs — bags of themed picture books that are announced on Fridays at 10 a.m., also via Facebook. You can also reserve grab-and-go bags by calling us on the days and times listed.

Although our buildings and Bookmobile are not yet reopened to the public, we’re working to implement safety and health protocols established by Gov. Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan, the Virginia Department of Health and local authorities. We know the public is eager for us to resume our normal operations. A patron on Facebook perhaps summed it up best: “I have missed the library more than anything during this pandemic.”

We’ve missed you all as well. In the meantime, continue to use the online services and resources we offer 24/7, 365 days a year. Socially distant or not, we’re your library and we stand ready to serve you.

For updates on services and operations, visit and Facebook: Franklin.County.Public.Library.Main and Franklin.County.Public.Library.Westlake

Arena is coordinator of programming, marketing and community outreach for the Franklin County Public Library.

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