St. Mary’s County Library Announces Limited Public Opening of Libraries
July 27, 2020
St. Mary’s County Library is pleased to announce that we will be welcoming customers back into the Library buildings starting Monday, August 3, 2020. This initial phase of opening to the public will be limited and will maximize safety for both staff and customers.
Precautions have been put in place that we ask all customers to respect. Travel and community spread can still cause spikes in the COVID-19 virus and we are taking the safety of our staff and customers very seriously. Due to the uncertain nature of the pandemic, there is always a possibility that the St. Mary’s County Library will return to only curbside service or close one or all branches once again for an extended period (such actions may be necessary if any of our employees contract the virus or if other circumstances make these actions our safest course forward.)
What restrictions will be in place?
- Masks are required in the building for both staff and customers over the age of two.
- All customers are asked to maintain a social distance of 6’ between one another. Our buildings have been prepared to accommodate social distancing. Some computers have been taken offline, some seating has been removed or otherwise covered, and there are marked waiting points for our customers in line to check out materials. Customers entering with children are asked to stay together, and please make sure to help children maintain social distance from other customers.
- Wipes will be available for customers to use in sanitizing and plastic wrap will be used to protect public keyboards.
- Computer assistance from staff will be limited due to the need for physical distancing. In some interactions, staff may use laser pointers or assist customers via online chat help. Employees are not to come within 6 feet of customers.
- Due to the Health Department’s guidelines, the number of visitors to our buildings will be limited. We have followed Health Department guidelines to determine how many customers and staff can be in a building while ensuring physical distancing. The following person limits apply: Charlotte Hall Library will allow 10 to 12; Leonardtown and Lexington Park will allow 20 to 24. Staff will monitor entrances and exits, and will try to accommodate groups. Larger groups may have to wait for a period of time before entering.
- To ensure that as many people as possible may use the Library, each visitor is limited to one-hour per visit. Computer sessions will be limited to 50 minutes in order to ensure time for printing, logging in and out, etc.
- Library hours will be Monday – Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday – Saturday, 12 p.m. (noon) to 5 p.m. The Libraries will be closed Sundays due to cleaning schedules.
- Customers or staff showing the symptoms of COVID-19 are asked not to enter our buildings or use curbside service. Symptomatic visitors will be asked to leave.
Will curbside service continue?
Yes. In order to serve as many as possible, the existing curbside service will continue, including printing service. Call us for further details during our open hours at 301-475-2846.
What if I have books to return?
The book drops on the exterior of all three Libraries are open. Please continue to return all items through the book drops. Staff will not accept materials returned by hand.
Can I request materials from Calvert Library or Charles County Public Library?
Yes. St. Mary’s County Library can now receive materials from our Southern Maryland partners, although items may be delayed more than usual due to implemented safety precautions.
What about interlibrary loan outside Southern Maryland?
Statewide loans will begin August 3. This reopening is not related to our schedule.
When will you be opening the buildings more fully and/or withdrawing your social distancing measures?
Any further loosening of restrictions will depend on guidelines from the State and St. Mary’s County Health Department. If this current phase goes well, we will continue to open services and reduce limitations as it is deemed safe to do so.
When will you be holding in-person programs and events again?
Any in-person programming or events will depend on guidelines from the State and St. Mary’s County Health Department. We do not anticipate any Library programs or events at our locations through the Fall. To stay current with our programs and events, please visit our website or social media to participate in virtual programming and update your email with the Library to receive our e-newsletters.
Can I (or my group or organization) use the meeting rooms?
No, the meeting rooms will not be available for public use at this time.
What if I have materials to donate?
Unfortunately, St. Mary’s County Library and the Friends of the St. Mary’s County Library remain unable to accept donations at this time.
How do I know library materials are safe?
All materials, once returned, will be quarantined for 96 hours (4 days) to ensure that any potential for contamination is removed, following best practices recommended by the State Library Resource Center and a national study conducted by Batelle. Please allow up to 7 days for items to clear your account after you have returned them.
Are Your Buildings safe?
Our buildings receive a daily deep cleaning from the County and we also have a daily schedule for sanitizing. As with any public space, there is no guarantee of safety. Due to the frequency of customer visits and the characteristics of the COVID-19 virus, there is a risk of contracting the virus by being in the Library and using Library equipment.
Curbside Pickup Begins June 22
Though our buildings remain closed to the public, you can now pickup your holds curbside at the Library! Place holds on items using the Library catalog, or contact us for help placing holds. When you receive notification that your items are available, you can schedule a curbside pickup appointment.
Appointments are available Monday – Thursday, 1 – 6 p.m.; and Friday – Saturday, 12 – 5 p.m.
If you had items available for pickup when we closed in March, we’ve still got them! Please check your account online (or contact us) to see if you have holds available. If you do, you may schedule an appointment to pick them up. If you no longer want the items that are available for you, please let us know.
Please do not schedule a curbside pickup appointment until you have items available for pickup.
Appointment details and instructions will be emailed to you when you make your appointment. When you arrive for your appointment, please wear a mask and remain at least six feet away from any person you encounter.
Curbside Pickup FAQs
Can I return materials to Library staff during my curbside pickup appointment?
Please do not hand returns to staff during your appointment. Returns may be placed in exterior book drops before or after your appointment.
Can I clean my library materials upon receipt or before returning?
Only sanitizing wipes can be used on plastic covers of books and DVD/CD cases. Do not clean with disinfectants as spray can damage covers and pages. Do not put any materials in the microwave oven, as they could catch fire. Do not expose to UV light, place in oven, or leave in car with extreme heat. We are quarantining materials for 72 hours to ensure safety.
Why are my returned materials still showing on my account?
All returned materials are being quarantined for 96 hours before being checked in and processed. There are no fees being incurred. Please allow 4-7 days for your account to clear.
Are you taking book donations?
The Friends of the St. Mary’s County Library is currently seeking a new space and not able to accept donations at this time. Once they have found a new location, we will announce where donated items can be taken. The Library is also not accepting donations due to storage limitations.
When will the Library be opening its doors to the public again?
We don’t know exactly when we’ll be able to open our doors for the next step of our phased reopening. This will depend on how things progress in our state and county. We will keep you updated via our website, social media, and these newsletters! As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.
Have questions for us?
Beginning June 22, we’re available by phone, chat, and text! Our hours are Monday – Thursday, 1 – 6 p.m.; and Friday – Saturday, 12 – 5 p.m. See all of our contact options on our website. Need to contact us outside of our open hours? Submit the Contact Us form on our website and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
An Update from the St. Mary’s County Library – May 29, 2020
May 29, 2020 – Leonardtown, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Library is pleased to announce Phase 1 Reopening plans. The book drops at all three Library locations (Charlotte Hall, Leonardtown, and Lexington Park) will be opened to receive checked out materials on Wednesday, June 17. All three locations will start curbside pickup of reserved materials on Monday, June 22.
Please note that the Leonardtown Library has moved to the new building located at 23630 Hayden Farm Lane in Leonardtown, next to Walter Francis Duke Elementary School. The old building located on Hollywood Road is no longer a Library and will not be accepting book returns or offering any Library services. We hope to celebrate the opening of the new Leonardtown Library on a future date.
All currently checked out items have had the checkout period extended until August 1. Book drops at all three Library locations will be opened on Wednesday, June 17. However, there is no rush to return your items before August 1. Please feel free to keep your items until August 1 if you would like to. All returned items will be quarantined for three days and will not be checked in immediately. Once you have returned an item, please wait at least three days before making sure it has been cleared from your account.
Beginning June 22, curbside pickup hours of operation will be Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 12 noon to 5 p.m. There will be no Sunday hours for this first phase of opening. Customers may reserve materials online through the Library website at this time, and will be able to call the Library to place holds beginning June 22. Customers will be notified via email (or the preferred contact method set in the customer’s Library account) when their items are ready to be picked up. Once notified that holds are available for pickup, customers will use our online scheduler to schedule a time to pick them up. Instructions for using the online scheduler will be available on www.stmalib.org. Customers are also welcome to call the Library to check on holds and schedule a time to pick up items if they do not have the ability to use the online scheduler.
Pickup at new Leonardtown Library will be at the drive-through window on the side of the building. Please park in designated spots at Charlotte Hall Library and Lexington Park Library for curbside service.
Please wear a mask and do not leave your vehicle when you come to pick up your items. Library staff will be wearing personal protective equipment and practicing social distancing during curbside transactions. We prefer to place your items in vehicle trunks or through windows at which no one is seated. Please do not return items to staff. Use the book drops to return all items.
Customers are encouraged to check their accounts to see what items are on hold online in your account. If you still want your requested items, we will notify you when they come in and are ready for pick up. However, if you no longer want items that are on hold, please either remove the holds or call the Library to receive assistance.
Phone and Chat Service
St. Mary’s County Library staff will be available via phone and online chat starting on Monday, June 22. Hours of operation will be Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. There will be no Sunday hours for this first phase of opening. Staff will be able to assist with information requests such as account questions, suggesting titles, homework and research help, online resources and downloadable content help, and logging summer reading challenges. Instructions on how to use the chat service will be available on the Library website, www.stmalib.org.
The Summer Reading program, designed for all ages from babies to adults, will begin on Monday, June 8. Find the challenges and more information about the Summer Reading program on www.stmalib.org. Summer Reading will be on the Beanstack platform used the past several years. The Beanstack app is available on both Android and IOS, or can be used via https://stmalib.beanstack.com/. If you do not have access to Beanstack, you can call 301-475-2846 starting on June 22 to report your completed challenges. By completing your first challenge, you will receive a glow-in-the-dark t-shirt with the 2020 theme “Imagine Your Story.” T-shirts will be picked up curbside and the process for scheduling a pickup time will be similar to picking up materials. Earn tickets to enter into prize drawings of your choice by completing challenges.
All programming and events will be virtual this summer. Please check out our website (www.stmalib.org) or follow us on Facebook (@StMarysLibrary) to find many fun programs and events for all ages.
We are not accepting in-person payment of any long-term fines (materials currently being returned will not have fines). Fines may be paid online (log into your Library account), by check (Made out to St. Mary’s County Library, include the Library card number on the check, and mail to 23260 Hayden Farm Lane, Leonardtown 20650), or via credit card over the phone.
The Friends of the St. Mary’s County Library and the Library are not able to accept physical donations (books, DVDs, audiobooks, etc.) at this time.
All Library materials, once returned, will be quarantined for 72 hours to ensure that any potential for contamination is removed, following best practices recommended by the State Library Resource Center. We regret that this practice may slow your receiving holds, but we are concerned for the safety of all in this challenging time.
After the state and county loosen some guidelines on physical distancing and “safer at home,” we will eventually open our buildings for in-person visits.
An Update from the St. Mary’s County Library – May 13, 2020
In accordance with Governor Hogan’s 3/23/2020 announcement for all non-essential businesses to close and Marylanders to stay home when possible, St. Mary’s County Library remains closed until further notice.
The St. Mary’s County Library looks forward to providing services to the public as part of the phased reopening of Maryland businesses and services. Although we do not have a date for opening yet, the following plan is being put in place to protect the health and well-being of both our staff and our customers during our phased reopening.
We are currently providing virtual programs and events for all ages. Please check our online calendar to see what is new and exciting! Summer Reading will begin in June and will be virtual using the Beanstack app.
When Governor Hogan begins to open Maryland as part of Phase 1, and the St. Mary’s County Health Department feels it is safe to do so, the St. Mary’s County Library will first open the book drops at all three locations to allow returns of checked out materials. Staff will also return to work in small, socially distant shifts to cleanse the buildings and move furniture to prepare for the next phases of service. During this time, the public will also be able to call the Library to receive help with online resources, digital materials, and other information requests.
When it is deemed safe and the Library has enough personal protective equipment for all staff to work safely, the Library will investigate starting curbside service to allow the public to pick up materials that have been placed on hold. The exact process for curbside will be explained when we are able to offer this service. Masks will be required to use this service.
The next phase will include allowing a limited number of people into the buildings at a time to safely browse the collections, use public computers, and complete other tasks such as making copies, printing, and scanning. Masks will be required for all customers entering any Library location. Staff will be on hand to help, but social distancing requirements will remain in place.
In a later phase, we will allow more people into the buildings and study room use by individuals will begin. The meeting rooms will have to remain closed until the state and county allow larger gatherings. Social distancing and the use of masks will continue during this time.
Eventually, we will return to full service and allow the public to freely enter our buildings. However, safety is our top priority. We will update you as each reopening phase is determined to be safe for our staff and our customers based on when Governor Hogan announces the implementation of each phase of Maryland’s reopening and when the St. Mary’s County Health Department agrees with that recommendation for St. Mary’s County.
We look forward to seeing all of you as soon as possible!
While the Library is Closed:
- Please consider using our eBooks, digital audiobooks, movies, and other digital content, as well as our many online learning resources.
- Any held items will remain on hold until we reopen. No fines will accrue on overdue items during this period.
- WiFi will remain on at all Library buildings 24/7 while we are closed so that it can be used in the parking lots.
- Keep up to date on the coronavirus through the St. Mary’s County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all linked to on our COVID-19 Information webpage.