Fort Bend County Libraries (FBCL) will slowly begin the process of re-opening buildings again on Monday, March 15. Phase 3 of the re-opening plan involves opening five libraries throughout the county – George Memorial Library in Richmond, Cinco Ranch Branch Library in Katy, the Missouri City Branch Library, the Sienna Branch Library, and the University Branch Library in Sugar Land.
In addition to the re-opening of these first five libraries, Phase 3 includes a gradual re-opening of other branches at later dates.
The Books & More Curbside Pick-Up service will continue to be available at ALL locations.
Patrons (age 2 and up) who enter the library building are required to wear a mask and follow all social-distancing guidelines. Patrons who cannot wear a mask will be assisted through the contact-free curbside pick-up service.
“We miss all of our patrons, and we know how important our libraries are to their daily lives,” says Library Director Clara Russell. “We want to return to “normal” service as soon as possible, but this needs to happen in phases so that we can keep everyone safe and healthy.”
During Phase 3, in the five libraries that are open, patrons will be able to:
- Browse all collections;
- Complete a library-card application in person to apply for or renew your library card or update your address;
- Pay fines/fees of $5 and up with a credit card (Mastercard/VISA/Discover) at the circulation desk. Cash will not be accepted;
- Make copies, scan, or fax documents;
- Use a computer and print; 2-hour limit; only one session is allowed per day. Reserve by calling the library or reserving online on the FBCL website or in person at the library; requires a library card;
- Ask questions at the Reference Desk;
- Use study rooms (2-person maximum capacity);
- Mobile WiFi hotspots and Launchpads are available for check out on a first-come, first-served basis to Fort Bend County residents.
Other safety precautions during Phase 3 include the following:
- Computers will be spaced apart so that social distancing is observed. Computer sessions will be limited to two hours.
- Meeting rooms and conference rooms will not be open at this time.
- Cash cannot be accepted for fines or fees.
- Programming and events for children, teens, and adults will remain online and in virtual formats.
- Donations of books cannot be accepted at this time.
- Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
- Everyone entering the buildings will start at the health-screening station; hand-sanitizer is also available.
Keeping community health and safety in mind, FBCL staff will continue to take extensive precautions to ensure a safe and germ-free environment for everyone, including checking staff temperatures upon their arrival at the building, wearing masks, washing hands, disinfecting hard surfaces and workstations daily, and quarantining returned materials.
Books, mobile WiFi hotspots, Launchpads, and interlibrary-loan materials should be returned in the book drop. Hotspots and Launchpads must be returned to the same library from which they were checked out. Book bins will sit untouched before books will be checked in; additional overdue/late fees will not accrue.
As always, patrons have instant access to eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, movies, and magazines through the libraries’ digital collections – hoopla, OverDrive, and Flipster – as well as online resources, databases, and Brainfuse Homework Help.
In addition, the following programs and services are available at ALL library locations throughout the county:
- Check out books, DVDs, or CDs;
- Use the online library-card application to apply for or renew your library card, update your address, or upgrade an e-Card, and pick up new library cards through the curbside pick-up service;
- Library staff continue to be available by phone, email, or online chat to assist patrons;
- WiFi can be accessed from the parking lots of the libraries;
- Mobile WiFi hotspots are available for check out on a first-come, first-served basis to Fort Bend County residents;
- Utilize the curbside pick-up service;
- Request Interlibrary loans (ILLs);
- Return books, hotspots, and ILLs in the book drop;
- Readers can participate in livestreamed book clubs in real time via Webex;
- Adult computer how-to videos are accessible from the website.
“FBCL serves a large number of residents throughout the county, so we are being very thoughtful and deliberate with our re-opening plans,” says Russell. “These are our friends and neighbors, and we’re going to do everything in our power to expand library services while keeping our staff and communities safe.”
The hours for the five Phase 3 locations, as well as for the remaining Curbside-Service-only locations, are as follows:
- Mon-Thu – 9 am-6 pm;
- Fri – 9 am-5 pm;
- Sat – 9 am-5 pm at all locations EXCEPT at the Albert George Branch Library (Needville), the Mamie George Branch Library (Stafford), and the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library. For these branches, the Saturday hours are 9 am-1 pm;
- Sun – CLOSED (all locations).
Please pick up items no later than 15 minutes prior to closing. If they are not picked up by that time, they will be held for the next business day.
For more information, see the Fort Bend County Libraries website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us) or call the library system’s Communications Office (281-633-4734).