Lawrence library extends closure into mid-May

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence Public Library, pictured Aug. 20, 2015.

The Lawrence Public Library will remain closed through May 17 in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the library announced Friday.

“As a thriving community hub for all ages, the library feels it is in everyone’s best interest to help flatten the curve and model safe social distancing,” the library said in a news release.

The Lawrence-Douglas County health department had previously ordered the library closed until the end of March. In the week since that order, as cases have increased, local and state officials have significantly strengthened their responses to the virus and extended the duration of many closures. Lawrence recreation centers will also stay closed through May 17, the city announced Thursday.

“We remain hopeful that the library will return to normal by summer and, if the situation improves, we might even open sooner,” Library Executive Director Brad Allen said in the release.

No materials will be due while the library is closed. Patrons are strongly encouraged to keep their borrowed items until the library reopens, because the volume of returned items can quickly overwhelm the library’s significantly reduced staffing, the library has said. As of earlier this year, the library no longer charges fines for overdue items. If patrons must return items, the library does have an exterior book drop on the west side of its building at Seventh and Kentucky Streets.

“We’re using this time to start planning Summer Reading and getting creative with our online programming and services,” Allen said in the release. “We’re thinking of ways to host online storytimes, book clubs, and even coffee clubs for retirees to help keep us all connected in a world where physical human contact is retreating.”

Patrons can access a variety of free digital materials, including audiobooks, ebooks, films and magazines, and the library said the use of those resources has been booming. The library has opened access to those services for patrons with expired cards or blocked accounts with fees. More information about accessing those services, as well as updates on library initiatives during the closure, can be found on the library’s website at

Earlier this week, the Journal-World reported that, at least during the initial closure period, the library would continue to pay all staff members, including those who would not be able to come in and work their normal shifts. Friday’s release did not include any mention of changes to that plan. Allen previously told the Journal-World that the library is much less vulnerable to revenue loss during a closure because property tax revenue supports the library’s operations.

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