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Old Depot, FCHS, library continue reopening

The Herald Staff

Beginning Wednesday, the Old Depot Museum and the Franklin County Records & Research Center will phase into reopening with appointments during limited hours.

Museums and archives face special challenges during a pandemic because artifacts and archives cannot be sanitized without risking permanent harm to the object, said Diana Staresinic-Deane, executive director of the Franklin County Historical Society. Limiting exposure and allowing time for viruses and bacteria to die off naturally is an important line of defense in keeping staff, volunteers, visitors and artifacts safe, she said.

Beginning Wednesday, the Old Depot Museum will be open to visitors by appointment from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Exhibits have been modified to promote a healthier experience, and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear masks to minimize impact on artifacts.

Also beginning Wednesday, the Franklin County Records & Research center will be open to researchers by appointment from 9 am. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays for two-hour blocks of time. Masks must be worn by visitors examining archival materials or artifacts.

Because social distancing is not possible in Dietrich Cabin in Ottawa’s City Park, it will remain closed at this time.

Although museums were given the go-ahead to open as early as June 8, FCHS delayed opening to give staff time to deep clean in the museum, create new exhibits, bring in new artifacts, and reconfigure spaces to reduce touch surfaces and protect artifacts that can’t be sanitized.

To schedule an appointment, call the Records Center at 785-242-1232. As county/state guidelines change, the availability of FCHS buildings may change.

Ottawa Library

Ottawa Library returned to regular hours beginning Monday. Unless the current health situation changes that would require more governmental and medical restrictions, library hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Six-feet social distancing guidelines will be in place, and patrons are asked to respect them. While not required, the use of face masks is encouraged and recommended. Sneeze guards, sanitary wipe stations for public computer use and hand sanitizers are in place.

Patrons are responsible for determining their own comfort level for being around others. When leaving, staff recommend patrons exit the library through the east door on the ground floor level. No in-person programs will be offered at this time.

The library encourages patrons to sign up for Summer Reading for all ages at ottawalibrary.beanstack.org and to tune into the Ottawa Library Facebook page each weekday morning at 10 a.m. for announcements and programs from children's department staff.