Mandy Summers, longtime Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library staff member, is hopeful the reopening will go smoothly and that the library will soon return to being a hub for Imlay City community members and visitors of all ages and interests; as it was before the pandemic hit in mid-March.

Ruth Hughes staff will host a soft opening on Aug. 31

IMLAY CITY — The Ruth Hughes District Library in Imlay City is tentatively moving up to the next stage of its reopening process.

Unless state-level restrictions change, Director Tracy Aldrich said the Imlay City library branch will begin offering limited public access to patrons on Monday, Aug. 31.

In conjunction with state-mandated occupancy limits, the Imlay City Branch can only accommodate up to 12 people at a time, including staff and patrons.

“We are tentatively looking at a ‘soft opening’ on Monday,” Aldrich said. “All safety protocol will be adhered to for the health and safety of both our staff and patrons.”

Aldrich said that includes wearing face coverings, observing social distancing, and using the hand sanitizer provided at the entrance.

She said hand sanitizer must be used before going through library stacks and materials and before touching equipment like the copy machine.

“We hope to have two laptops available for the public to use,” said Aldrich, “but there are no meeting or study rooms open yet because of safety guidelines.

“Sadly, one of our favorite services, our children’s play area, is closed temporarily for the same reasons.”

In stark contrast to past and preferred practices, she said patrons will be subject to a 30-minute time limit.
“People can no longer come in and socialize and linger in the library,” said Aldrich. “We’re going to be a ‘grab-and-go’ library, where people come in, pick something out, and then have to leave.”

She said the library’s ‘curbside service’ option will still be available for customers who prefer that service.

Staffing shortage

Because of pandemic-related staff losses, remaining staff members now face increased challenges.

“We now have to have someone serving as a greeter at the door,” she continued, “and we will need to be able to do that with fewer staff.”

Curbside service

Aldrich said the library’s curbside service will still be available at the Imlay City branch, adding that Ruth Hughes’ Attica branch will be limited to curbside service-only for the immediate future.
Because of that building’s smaller size, the Attica Branch would only have room for 2-3 people at a time, resulting in the decision to limit that branch to just curbside service.

Though disappointed with the limitations and inconveniences placed on staff and patrons, Aldrich is encouraged that the Imlay City branch will soon experience some degree of normalcy.

“We are now finishing up our safety preparations and getting our procedures ready,” Aldrich said. “We thank everyone for their patience and support during this difficult time.

“Our focus now is on enabling people to come in to choose their own materials, or to do their own copying and computing in a timely fashion.

“We really miss our patrons and are looking forward to the day we can put this pandemic behind us and get back to spending quality time with our visitors!”

Summers lauded

On a positive note, Aldrich acknowledged Ruth Hughes’ staff member Amanda “Mandy” Summers for her decade of service to the library and the Imlay City community.

“Please join us in congratulating our Children’s Librarian, ‘Miss Mandy,’ on 10 years at the Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library,” Aldrich said. “Mandy is a dedicated public servant, a friend of youth, and an incredibly generous and kind person.

“We are so grateful to have her on our team,” she continued. “And by the way, she is smiling beneath the mask. Congratulations and thank you, Mandy, for all you do.”

The Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library is located at 211 N. Almont Ave. in downtown Imlay City.

For further information about either the Imlay City or Attica libraries, call 810-724-8043.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.