COLUMBIA, S.C. — This week, many public libraries in the Midlands began their first phase of reopening. 

Lexington, Sumter and Kershaw County libraries launched outdoor, contact-less pickup for customers to check out books.

Director of the Lexington County Public Library, Kelly Poole, explains how it works. 

“Patrons can place their hold through telephone or through the card catalog. You go to our website and place your hold from there… Once staff members have acquired your hold, they will check it out to you and contact you with the time and date for pickup.”

All Lexington County branches are offering curbside service. If you live in Lexington County but don’t have a library card, “you can do a really easy online registration” Poole said, “it’s known as a temporary card or a quick card.”

Once books are returned, they are quarantined for 72 hours.

Poole says their next phase will be to provide mobile printing outside as it is a “big need in [their] community.”

Kershaw County Library is offering curbside pickup at all three of its branches. Sumter County Library is offering the same service at their downtown location.

Richland County Library is taking a different approach. They’re remaining closed and keeping everything online for now.

Melanie Huggins, the executive director of Richland County Library says people love their online services. “Our digital collections, e-books, music all that has sky rocketed. We’ve circulated over 200,00 items in the past few weeks.”

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Huggins says they’re preparing to offer computer services in their facilities soon.

“The truth is we’d love to be open as soon as possible but we have to follow the guidance of DHEC - we have to see a sustained reduction of cases in Richland County - before we feel comfortable asking our staff to come back.”

Richland County isn’t the only one - Calhoun County Libraries are also staying closed for now.

No matter what phase of reopening your local library is in, all South Carolina libraries are offering a multitude of free online services. For more information, head to your county library’s website.