Calcasieu Libraries reopen at reduced capacity after COVID-19 closure

Calcasieu libraries reopen

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Public Library System is now open to the public since being closed due to the pandemic.

The Central branch opened its doors at 9 a.m. Wednesday, for the first time in nearly three months. It’s a day many in the Lake Area have waited for.

“I’ve been checking every day on the website when the library is going to reopen because this is my favorite place in Lake Charles,” said Karrey Wilson.

Local staff has spent the downtime sanitizing all books and computers at the library. Carly Searcy, Manager of the Central Library, said it was wonderful to see the in-person visits returning.

“Opening our doors today, I think we’re all really happy to see patrons coming back in...We see the same people every day, they’re a part of our family,” Searcy said.

All branches will be opened with metered access and at a reduced capacity.

Searcy said, prior to the pandemic, they were prepared for a packed summer reading season. She said as many as 1800 people would visit the library in a single day.

“Pre COVID-75 to 100 people would come in the library in an hour...at peak times that might be as many as 400. Right now we’re limited to allowing 100 people in at a time.”

All branches of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library reopened to the public on Wednesday. Hours of operation will be Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the exception of the Hayes and Starks branches which will both operate at their normal operating hours.

Public computers will be accessible at all branches and all facilities have been sanitized per CDC guidelines for the public’s safety.

“Because of social distancing requirements, we have about half the computers we would normally have available. So, we’re asking patrons to limit their time to an hour a day, so that everyone can use the resources,” Searcy said.

As for the Central Library, work there never fully closed down when COVID-19 made a turn for the worse.

“Recently, we’ve been back in offering curbside service. You call us we give you an appointment, help you put anything on hold, show up in the parking lot, give us a call and we put the materials right in your trunk,” said Searcy.

Curbside service will still be available at all branch locations. In addition, the library’s Wi-Fi has been enhanced in the parking areas for patrons to access during closed hours.

While they’ve reopened on a limited basis, guests are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing, something Karrey Wilson doesn’t mind.

“Anyone who knows me knows I love spending time here,” Wilson said. “With more businesses opening up, I feel like it’s not only giving me hope but other people hope too.”

For those who may have had a book checked out during the stay-at-home order, management has waived all late fees.

For more information on library services and virtual program, visit the library webpage at www.calcasieulibrary.org

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