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Local Library Found Creative Ways to Serve Community During Pandemic

The Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library. Photo by Jeff McVay

The Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library provides more than just books to area citizens.

It gives people without internet service at home a place to look for jobs and check their email or do homework and offers a slew of educational toys and puzzles for children. It offers people a place to print things out or fax items.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library had to become creative and find ways to continue to serve the community while remaining safe like offering curbside book checkout, online storytime and providing arts and craft bags for parents to pick up and bring home to their children.

Now that the library is back to being fully open, citizens are returning to the library to find books, use computers, fax machines, check out movies and more.

Oxford Branch Manager Laura Beth Walker and First Regional Director Lori Barnes submitted the library’s annual budget request to the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

The library is asking for $489,900 for its fiscal year 2021-2022 budget.

“We are grateful for all your support over the years,” Walker said.

In 2020, residents checked out books and other materials 81,563 times and used the computers 9,987 times until the pandemic forced the library to close its doors.

When the library offered its curbside checkout during the pandemic, 981 people took advantage of that service.

The Oxford library is under the umbrella of the First Regional Library system that was recently recognized by the Mississippi Library Commission as a Star Library. The award was based on data for circulation, program attendance and public computer use.

The library will go before the Oxford Board of Aldermen with its budget request to the city within the next couple of weeks as both Oxford and Lafayette County leaders continue to meet with department heads to review annual budgets.

The fiscal year for both Oxford and Lafayette runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The new budgets must be approved by Sept. 15.

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