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Baltimore County library computers now available for use by appointment as system takes next step in reopening

Those who wish to use the free computers at Baltimore County Public Library branches may do so by appointment starting Wednesday.

In its next step to restore library services to the community amid the coronavirus pandemic, the library system said in a Tuesday announcement computers at 18 branches will now be open for public use by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

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The Reisterstown library branch is currently closed for renovations.

All appointments will be limited to one hour and residents can make one appointment per day, according to a news release. The last computer appointment will be one hour prior to closing, and no other services will be available inside the library buildings. All library materials can be checked out through curbside pickup.

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Starting Monday, library patrons will be able to schedule computer appointments up to 48 hours in advance through an online reservation form or by calling the library branch they wish to visit.

Reopening for computer access will be the first time branches are providing any service inside since closing in March due to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As part of our commitment to providing library services in this uncertain and challenging time, we are excited to offer this needed and requested computer access, even if in a limited way, alongside our existing suite of curbside/contactless offerings,” said James Cooke, Baltimore County Public Library co-interim director.

While branches are not open for public browsing, the library offers contactless services and resources, like curbside pickup and printing; downloadable ebooks and audiobooks; free Wi-Fi in all branch parking lots; grab-and-go meals for children; virtual “Ask a Librarian” services; resources for students; and movies.

In July, Baltimore County began requiring individuals to wear face coverings indoors at public places. Visitors older than 5 are required to wear masks inside the library throughout their visit. A mask will be provided for those who don’t bring their own.

County libraries began the first phase of their reopening plan in June with contactless curbside services and book drop-offs, and recently branches entered the second phase, adding curbside printing to their available in-person services.

Baltimore County’s library system, like most others in the greater Baltimore area, has chosen not to fully reopen its buildings to the public due to safety concerns amid the pandemic. Earlier this month, the Essex and Towson branches were closed after two employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

The library’s next step in reopening will include broadening materials that can be picked up outside the library. Erica Palmisano, spokesperson for the library system, previously said continuing to reopen is based on how safe it will be, how prepared library buildings are and what “sustainable service mechanisms” will be available should another spike in state cases occur.

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