Area Libraries Opening as Summer Begins and Pandemic Threat Subsides

By George Slaughter

Akhila Bhat, Maud Marks Library branch manager (Harris County Public Library photo)

Katy-area libraries are not yet at full capacity as the pandemic subsides and the summer begins, but they are opening up and welcoming back their patrons.

“All of the Harris County Public Library branches are at 75% occupancy as we’re following the Harris County threat level guidance,” Angel Hill, Katy Branch Library senior manager, said. “Currently, the level is at Yellow, but once it reaches the next level (Green), we’ll be back to 100%.”

Both the Katy and Maud Smith Marks libraries are part of the Harris County Public Library system. Akhila Bhat, Maud Smith Marks Library branch manager, said no date has been set for a return to full capacity.

Hill and Bhat said that masks and social distancing are encouraged.

Bhat said in-person programs, such as the monthly Maud Smith Marks Library book sale, are on hold. No date has been set for resumption of the book sale.

However, Bhat said the library offers many of its regular services, including access to the physical collections (books, movies, and so forth) for browsing and checkout. Other services, such as computer access, curbside holds and pickup, document scanners, printing services, public access catalogs, self-checkout machines, and Wi-Fi access, are available.

Hill said the Katy library’s summer reading program has kicked off with continued virtual programs, prizes, and outdoor activities. Hill urged the public to watch for more information on through the library’s website and on social media.

“At this time, we are only having outdoor activities,” Hill said. “However, inside the library is open for book browsing, computer use, and normal use of the building. Once the threat level reaches Green, we’ll resume our indoor programs.”

Hill said reopening the library has been a wonderful experience.

“Engaging with customers in person again brought life back into the library, and we as staff are invigorated,” Hill said.

Bhat said families are excited to visit the library again.

“We are being thanked for the service we provided while we were closed, especially the book bundle service and the virtual programs,” Bhat said.