MURRAY — The Calloway County Public Library will be closing its doors Monday in the wake of concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in various states across the country. 

The CCPL Board of Trustees met in special session Saturday to discuss the issue and vote on the closure. The library is scheduled to be closed for two weeks through March 29, mirroring the expected closure of local school districts. The duration of the closure, however, is subject to change as information and recommendations change. 

During the discussion of the closure, trustee Winfield Rose said he felt the closure of the library was unnecessary. 

“I don’t think any of this is necessary,” Rose said. “There hasn’t been a single case at the hospital ... there has been no case reported in the city, no case reported in the county, no case reported in western Kentucky, no case reported in western Tennessee — that I know of. This is national hysteria. We have far more cases of the flu, and we weren’t talking about closing for the flu.” 

Trustee Vonnie Hays-Adams said during the discussion that there had been no confirmed cases, but that did not mean the virus had not made its way into the area. Trustee Debbie Bell said she understood what Rose was saying, but felt that the steps were being taken to keep things from getting worse. 

“I agree with that to a certain point, and that is what I said this time last week,” Bell said. “But I have come to understand that this is not containment, it is abatement. Which means we are stopping it here before it starts.” 

Board president Riley Ramsey said there was a state of emergency declared on the national level. 

“The president has declared this a national emergency, and our governor has asked that schools close (as well as) state government offices,” Ramsey said. “We are just trying to be proactive.” 

“Well, really what we are doing is going along with everybody else,” Rose said. “Let’s just call it for what it is.” 

When the board voted on the measure of closing the library, Rose provided the sole nay vote. Bell, Adams and Ramsey all voted in favor of the measure. Mark Kennedy was not present during the meeting, with Ramsey saying he had submitted his resignation to the board March 12. 

After the vote, Ramsey discussed a portion of the employee handbook that gives the director the authority to close the library in the event of an emergency. The board will now defer to Director Mignon Reed’s judgment as more information about COVID-19 develops.

Later Saturday, the library released the following statement: “The community and the library staff members are our primary concern. With the growing Coronavirus pandemic and further recommendations from Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, the Calloway County Public Library will close its building to the public starting Monday, March 16 through Sunday, March 29.

“The library takes shutting its doors to the public very seriously. With a consensus from the library board of trustees, the decision was made to close the library to ensure both the health and safety of its staff as well as Calloway County residents.

“Because the library will not be open to the public, all programs, meeting room reservations, and other services available when physically visiting the library are suspended. All due dates for items will be extended while the library is closed and all late fees will be waived. Members may hold on to the items they have checked out until the library reopens.

“With the shutdown, members will no longer be able to check out physical items. However, the library does offer extensive online services that can be used with just a library card, computer/mobile device, and internet connection. Just go to callowaycountylibrary.org for more details.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause and hope the pandemic situation improves rapidly. Please watch the library’s website at callowaycountylibrary.org or Facebook page for more announcements. Library administrators are continually monitoring the situation as it develops and will update the public on further information on the shutdown of our facility based on the recommendations from the state and local authorities.” 

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