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Most Jackson County libraries will shut down due to COVID-19

Most of the 15 libraries in Jackson County will shut down as of Monday in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak — except for the branches in Medford and Ashland.

The Medford and Ashland branches will be open and will extend their hours to seven days per week. New hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at those two branches.

Materials can only be checked out at self-service stations.

Programs and meetings at all library branches will also be suspended through March 31 — including the Medford Comic Con celebration of comic books, superhero movies and video games that drew thousands to downtown Medford in 2019.

The Jackson County Library District Board of Directors voted Thursday to take the safety steps due to the outbreak and Governor Kate Brown’s announcement of a statewide closure of public schools starting Monday and lasting through the rest of March.

The library district board will decide by March 23 whether library and event closures will extend past March 31. They plan to make decisions about cancellations at least two weeks prior to event dates.

However, they already decided to cancel the Medford Comic Con extravaganza, which had been scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26.

“The role of the library in a community, by nature, is as a public space and we take that responsibility seriously,” said Jackson County Library Services Director Kari May. “As such, these adjustments to our services are not made lightly, but with the goal to protect the health of both our staff and patrons.”

She encouraged users to take advantage of the library system’s wide-ranging digital resources and to call or email reference librarians to limit face-to-face interactions.

All deliveries and services to homebound patrons will be replaced by deliveries through the U.S. Postal Service. The library system will cover mailing costs.

Outreach for story time visits to child care sites is canceled through March 31.

Story time videos will be available at jcls.org by March 23.

All in-person appointments with digital services staff members are canceled through March 31. Staff will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday by phone and/or video conferencing to assist patrons.

Computer terminals will be staggered to comply with social distancing recommendations from health experts.

Due dates for library materials will be extended upon request.

Book donations will not be accepted until further notice.

For updates, visit jcls.org.

Meanwhile, some businesses are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by offering new delivery services for customers.

Bloomsbury Books, located at 290 E. Main St. in downtown Ashland, announced it will deliver books to customers in the Ashland area.

The store remains open and people are welcome to browse the shelves. But people who don’t want to visit the book shop in person can call 541-488-0029 to place a book order by phone or to ask workers for book recommendations.

Bloomsbury Books said it will deliver a book or books and leave them by the customer’s door that day at no additional charge.

If the bookshop needs to order a book that is not in stock, the book will usually arrive in 1-2 days. Workers will call customers before making deliveries.

Bloomsbury Books will ship books to customers outside the Ashland area at no additional charge.

“Of course, Bloomsbury is still open every day and we’d love to see you. We’ll get through this by helping each other,” the store announced on its website and through social media.

Health officials are urging people with symptoms of respiratory illness to stay home, even if they haven’t been diagnosed with COVID-19. They recommend that people who are elderly, have serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, or who have compromised immune systems limit their social interactions with others and avoid crowded public spaces.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Most libraries in Jackson County will close Monday due to coronavirus, except for the Medford and Ashland branches. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Medford Library.