Muncie Public Library reopens for first time since March

Kennedy Library reopens Tuesday, Sept. 8 after closing down back in March.
Kennedy Library reopens Tuesday, Sept. 8 after closing down back in March.

MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) - After a nearly six month hiatus, the Muncie Public Library branches have reopened.

The Kennedy Library, one of MPL’s branches, is located on McGalliard Rd., a short drive from Ball State’s campus. It, like all the other MPL branches, has been closed since COVID-19 shut down the nation back in March.

While the branches were closed to the public all summer, the library’s employees were still working to get books to the community through a new service they started, curbside pick up. Library Director Akilah Nosakhere said that the shutdown gave her and her employees a new perspective on the business. This new perspective is what led to the idea of curbside service.

"It gave us a chance to kinda rethink our service, how important it is, you know, to the community... so we tried the preliminary steps, you know, the curbside , which we still do for those who can't come in…," Nosakhere said.

She also said the shutdown gave the library patrons the ability to explore virtual options.

"We have OverDrive, we have all these other library vendors which provide us with digital and E-books which can be checked out virtually," she said.

The curbside service, which is still offered at the Kennedy Library, is still open, but was predominantly used over the summer, something Nosakhere thought was beneficial.

"I think it was good. Those who could not afford to buy the book, there's always that group that can go to Amazon or wherever and just order what they wanted, but then there's that other group that didn't have enough money to buy everything they needed or wanted and the library was always there to provide access to new material…," she said.

While the curbside service might have its own sort of impact, Nosakhere said in-person services are also important

"Well, the schools just started. We share our catalog with the Muncie Public Schools and with MOMS, which is a Motivate Our Minds local educational support organization, and we added the YOC, which is the Youth Opportunity Center, to be part of our catalog and now that learning is online, students in all of these places can have access to online learning materials, not only books, but databases, how-to videos, they need a tutor...The library had to be around to provide that kind of service and we love doing that," Nosakhere stated.

The library was closed for longer than intended, but Nosakhere said that was in order for the library personnel to determine the best way to reopen. That includes safety protocols, like glass barriers, and additional protective equipment.

"We wear our masks and we require masks for everyone that comes in. For the staff, we check our temperatures when we come in, before we leave home or at the back door when we come to the library. We have requested funding to buy those kinds of things so that we could test what with the public kind of coming in, so we keep our fingers crossed that these grants come through. We clean those surfaces that are touched, that we think are touched several times a day so we are always going through and making sure things are disinfected and that's the best we could do. Keep our masks on, keep our minds positive and always look out for the other by cleaning up behind yourself…," Nosakhere said.

Kennedy Library and Maring-Hunt Library are open daily from 1 - 5 p.m. Connection Corner and Carnegie Library are open by appointment only.

For any comments or concerns, contact the author at emharless@bsu.edu.

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