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Coronavirus prompts libraries to limit public events, push hand sanitizer

The Columbus Dispatch logo The Columbus Dispatch 3/11/2020 Dean Narciso
a close up of a book: SHUTTERSTOCK © Provided by The Columbus Dispatch SHUTTERSTOCK

Public libraries are among the most open and inviting places people can visit, with computers, books and magazines freely shared and public meeting space for a variety of events.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, some are now beginning to change policies to protect the public.

At the four-branch Delaware County District Library, toys have been removed from children's play areas to be disinfected and put in storage. And programs involving cooking or food will not allow actual food.

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A Paws for Reading program is canceled through May "to protect the health of the dogs, their handlers, and those they visit," according to a library news release.

And regular loan periods are being relaxed for those unable, or unwilling, to return items to libraries. Most libraries are offering hand sanitizer throughout their buildings.

"If you feel ill, please don't make the effort to come to the library to return your materials," said Nicole Fowles, spokeswoman for the Delaware system.

Upper Arlington's three-branch library system also is removing toys from children's play areas.

At Columbus Metropolitan Library's Main Library, large meetings that had been scheduled are being canceled, said Ben Zenitsky, library spokesman.

Westerville Public Library is looking at possibly canceling a handful of monthly events such as concerts and author visits, those drawing more than 100 people, said Tamara Murray, marketing manager.

dnarciso@dispatch.com

@DeanNarciso

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