By Allen Edmonds
In announcements that at any other time would be considered stunning, two staples of local government waved the white flag in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic this week.
Last Monday, the Cass County Public Library announced it would close all branches beginning Tuesday. The closure, at least initially, will last through Sunday, April 5.
Then on Wednesday, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced the postponement of the April 7 Municipal and School Election until June 2. The deadline to register for the election remained as originally set, March 11, but the deadline for filing as a write-in candidate is now 5 p.m. Friday, March 27.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is now May 20, and absentee ballots must be received by the election authority on June 2.
The postponement is allowable by a state law that provides that during a state of emergency, the Governor is authorized to “waive or suspend the operation of any requirement or administrative rule prescribing procedures for conducting state business, where strict compliance with such requirements and rules would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action by the Department of Health and Senior Services to respond to a declared emergency or increased health threat to the population.”
Rules are not so clearly stated in regard to libraries, though the state, county and area cities later issued guidance instructing citizens to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and to remain home except for essential errands.
The library closure includes all classes, activities, meetings and study room usages and outreach services.
“This was a difficult decision,” according to a release issued by library administration.
“However, as we reviewed the information from federal, state and local public health officials, we are opting to close temporarily out of an abundance of caution.”
Patrons are asked not to return library materials during the closure. All due dates have been extended through April 15. Items will not be overdue, nor will patrons be billed.
The library’s collection of digital books and audiobooks is available 24/7 at casscolibrary.com/ebooks and via the Overdrive and/or Libby apps. Patrons can access ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and research resources with these tools.
“Again, we are deeply aware of the vital role that libraries play in the community, especially in difficult times, and so the decision to close, even temporarily, was not reached lightly. We appreciate the support of our customers and our community during this challenging time and we look forward to opening our doors again just as soon as we are able.”