In this column, I will focus on a global issue beginning to affect our community.  As you probably know, the Coronavirus has dominated the news recently.  It has now reached America.  Federal, state and local governments are making decisions that have an impact on our lives and will change the norm of daily living.
Similarly, the City of Roanoke Rapids has taken steps to make extra precautions to plan and prepare for the possibilities of a community-level breakout of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). We hope it will not come to Roanoke Rapids and the Roanoke Valley but we want to be prepared in the event that it does.  Consequently, City Administration has decided to close Roanoke Rapids Public Library along with other Parks and Recreation facilities until further notice.  This closure began at the end of the workday on Friday, March 13.  This closure also includes programs and special events.

For the public library, staff will be available to answer the telephone from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Thursday and 10 am – 2 pm Friday.  Our phone number is (252) 533-2890 and select prompt 4.  In addition, our online resources are available with a valid Roanoke Rapids library card.  Our book drop located near our entrance on Roanoke Avenue will be open all day for the return of materials.  If you presently have material, you may either return it in the book drop or hold the material until the library reopens to the public.  Overdue fines will not accrue on material from Wednesday, March 11.  A new due date will be set on all currently checked out material two weeks after the library reopens once that date is determined.  If you have DVDs, I would prefer your holding them and not returning them in the book drop.  I regret the inconvenience this closure is causing our patrons to have.  However, we will get through this time together with patience and steadfast determination.

For more information about the Coronavirus, I encourage you to follow the awareness and prevention guidelines provided by the Halifax County Health Department and scroll down on the home page or go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at  Take care of yourself, your family and help your neighbors.  We will be a stronger community if we care for one another.

The U. S. Census Bureau sent invitations to complete the US Census form to all addresses last week.  This is the first Census where the form is also available online.  Roanoke Rapids Public Library has committed to be a location where patrons may complete the form online.  However, due to our temporary closure, I would recommend for now that you complete the form sent to you by mail or phone the U. S. Census Bureau at 844-330-2020 for English speakers or 844-468-2020 for Spanish speakers.  Phone lines are open every day from 7 am – 2 am Eastern Daylight Time.  Further information on completing the form online will be shared when the Library resumes operating hours to the public.  Please be counted.  Census counts determine representation in Congress, the electoral votes of states, and the distribution of federal and state dollars to localities.  Directly for the public library, our population is one factor that determines how much State Aid we receive from the State of North Carolina, which permits us in part to purchase library resources.  It is important that everyone be counted.

Thank you for reading my column.  The Library looks forward to continuing to serve and help our citizens in the days ahead.  We remain the place to offer collections, connections, and community all for you.