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The public library took the step as the COVID-19 risk level remains at moderate in Columbia County.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - A limited number of patrons will be allowed to browse and use computers at th St. Helens Public Library. With Columbia County's COVID-19 risk level now lowered to moderate, the St. Helens Public Library is allowing a limited number of patrons inside the building to browse for books or to use the public computers.

Library director Margaret Jeffries says no more than 35 patrons will be allowed in the library at any one time because of the 50% building occupancy rule that the moderate risk category allows.

"If patrons, or just members of the community, want to come in and use the computers, and patrons want to come in to actually make their own material selections, they can come in and browse just like they ordinarily would," Jeffries said. "We want people to come in and make their selections and go, so that other people can come in and do the same."

Currently, the library offers six computers. The library originally contained 14 computers, but the library decided to purchase six computers to accommodate a socially-distanced layout.

Even with the limited building occupancy requirement, patrons will once again have the luxury of walking the aisles and choosing a book to enjoy.

"There are a lot of our regular readers that really want to be able to peruse the materials and read the book covers and decide what is inviting," she said.

Jeffries says the library will continue to monitor the COVID-19 risk level in Columbia County and adjustments will be made accordingly.

As it has for months, curbside service will continue at the St. Helens Public Library.

"There are still many members of the public, I think, that will prefer to get their library materials that way," Jeffries said. "We want to continue to offer that service for people who have those concerns."

Hours for browsing, including curbside service, will continue to be Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.

The idea at the St. Helens Public Library is to offer services to a book-loving public while being mindful of the pandemic.

"We're pleased to be able to continue to support our patrons with the services that keep them safe," Jeffries said.


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