PHOTO #1: Amelia Ripa decorates a window Wednesday during the Victoria Public Library’s Teen Area Window Painting event.
PHOTO #2: New carpeting was installed in the Victoria Public Library while the building was closed to the public.
PHOTO #3: Mary Jane Ripa works on a Harry Potter-themed drawing Wednesday during the Victoria Public Library’s Teen Area Window Painting event.
PHOTO #4: Signs posted throughout the library remind visitors to practice safe physical distancing.
The Victoria Public Library reopened to the public June 1, and residents won’t have to worry about paying late fees on items that passed their due dates during the closure.
The Victoria City Council at its May 19 meeting approved an ordinance to extend the suspension of library fines for the duration of the closure.
Previously, Mayer Rawley McCoy had issued an executive order that library fines be suspended for as long as the City of Victoria’s local disaster declaration remained in effect. When library Director Dayna Williams-Capone learned that the disaster declaration would be lifted while the library was still closed, she reached out to City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz to determine what steps needed to be taken to ensure that residents wouldn’t be fined while the library was still closed.
“I wanted to make sure that everything the library was doing would be tied together,” Williams-Capone said. “Connecting the fines with the reopening sends a message to residents that we’re going back to normal.”
After the library and other facilities closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, library staff worked creatively to continue providing checkouts, event programming and other services. Nevertheless, Williams-Capone said, the return to traditional methods has been welcomed by staff and residents alike.
“We have regular visitors who like to come to the library every two weeks or every three weeks,” Williams-Capone said. “COVID-19 threw off people’s routines in many ways, and we’re ready to help people get back into their routines.”
The library did not host any interactive crafts or events during its first week open in line with orders issued by Governor Greg Abbott, but staff have still found ways to provide in-person entertainment.
On June 3, the library hosted an outdoor window painting event, allowing teens to decorate the library’s windows using colorful chalk paint markers. The library also provided craft kits for younger children to create yarn starbursts. Children and families could create crafts on their own in the library or take the kits home.
Story Time Live will continue to be offered via Facebook, and other events such as virtual trivia nights will be hosted online as well. Details can be found on the library’s Facebook page.
The library’s interlibrary loan program, which allows patrons to request materials from other libraries in Texas, is currently unavailable. The statewide program is based in Dallas, and officials there have not yet reopened the service.
“The program is shut down for the whole state right now,” Williams-Capone said.
Although library traffic has not yet returned to pre-closure levels, Williams-Capone said many people have come by for services that weren’t available during the closure, such as using the internet, printing materials and simply browsing the shelves.
For more information about the Victoria Public Library, call 361-485-3302.