One woman, in enough of a rush that she declined to give her name, told the staff she would be back with the basket as she carried a load of books to her car shortly before noon at the Mid-Continent Public Library North Independence Branch on U.S. 24.


Mid-Continent Public Library announced Monday morning it would be close all library branches in the metro area at noon, through March 31, as a coronavirus public health precaution.


Kansas City Public Library announced Sunday afternoon it would close all branches until further notice.


All Mid-Continent due dates have been extended through April 15, all current fines have been frozen and all book holds will be available when the library reopens. Book drops are also closed.


Several patrons, either there as planned or having scrambled to get to the library, carried an armful of books and other materials they checked out.


“People are definitely stocking up, getting ready for the shutdown,” Independence North branch manager Andrew Phillips said a few minutes before closing time.


In a release, the MCPL said it was a difficult decision to close for a couple weeks, but closing facilities was the only way to ensure ideal social distancing.


“We know that libraries are vital hubs in our communities, so our default is to assume that we should open to serve, especially in difficult times,” the library said. “But we also value the well-being of our customers and staff above all else.”


Mid-Continent encouraged patrons to use its virtual library if possible. That collection includes eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines and newspapers, research materials, music and video.


“I’ll miss you,” the woman said after she returned the basket.


“We’ll miss you too,” Phillips said. “See you in a couple weeks.”