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Holmes Library weathers the storm of pandemic

Kevin Boyer
kboyer@chipleypaper.com
Washington County News

BONIFAY - Holmes County Public has been working to continually support their community through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The library, located at 303 North J. Harvey Etheridge Street in Bonifay, continued serve their community after all other libraries in the surrounding areas closed following the state wide shutdown. According to library officials, when all business where closed to the public, in April, the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners worked with the libraries director to supply services to the community. With the help and approval of H.C. Administrator David Corbin, the library extended the Wi-Fi coverage to completely cover the two library parking areas.

“This allowed many residents to be able to use their own devises to complete IRS filing and Unemployment online,” Becky Marsh, Library Director said.

Marsh said the library’s Wi-Fi printer was available so patrons could print, w-2, check stubs, IRS and unemployment documents from their phones or personal laptops.

“Everyone abided by the CDC and Governors restrictions by wearing mask and gloves in all transactions,” Marsh said. “An individual would call into the library, staff would explain the steps, and items were placed in a box outside for them to retrieve. Once the items where exchanged and the individual returned to their vehicle, the box was brought in sprayed and wiped down with disinfect. Individuals that did not have their own devise to complete unemployment, laptops were checked out in the same fashion and they would use them from their vehicles.”

Library officials said due to the schooling restrictions, the library had several calls about using computers for their children's school work because they did not have computers or internet access at home.

There are still several families in the Noma, Bethlehem, New Hope, and Leonia areas that do not have internet access, due to various reasons including costs.

Marsh said the library was able to check out laptops to those parents that would set in the parking area or my our annex building where their children could complete school work supplied by our local schools. The library also allowed curbside check out for the educational Launch Pad PlayAway tablets for children, so children would continue to learn but enjoy games and time with their family.

The library reopened on May 6 to offer most of the services while following all the required CDC and Governors restrictions. The library’s children's section, bathrooms, and annex building still remains closed to the public. Only eight people are currently allowed in the library at a time, with six feet distancing, gloves and mask. Out of the 16 public computers only six are open to the public. Computer use is limited to one hour per person, no gaming or social media, only medical, government, or state websites are allowed to be accessed.

Individuals are encouraged to use the library online catalog placing items on hold or call in their request which would be pulled for them to pick up, Marsh said.

“Our community has been great at being patient and working with us by following all the restrictions required,” she said.

Story Time and children summer actives, which usually are held in person, are being designed and presented through the library web page and Facebook page, according to Marsh. Starting June 30th children can come by the library and pick up activity bags to have and enjoy at home.

For more information, go to Holmes County Public Library Facebook page 'Holmes Co Public Library FL' or visit our web page at www.myhcpl.org.