URBANA – With libraries allowed to reopen under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, both the Champaign Public Library and the Urbana Free Library open their doors to the public today after nearly four months of being closed.
“We’re excited to reopen,” says Amanda Standerfer, Director of Development and Promotion at the Urbana Free Library. “Cautiously excited, I suppose, because we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get ready to make sure everyone can be safe and have a good experience at the library.”
Both libraries are implementing various safety measures to protect visitors. For example, patrons will be asked to wear masks and maintain social distance throughout their visit to the library. Masks will be provided to those who need one, and seating will be limited to discourage longer visits. Computers will be available for public use, but time is limited to one hour per user, and library staff will not be available to help due to social distancing regulations.
Standerfer says she hopes these safety measure put visitors at ease.
“We know that there’s fear and anxiety out there about coming into the library and what to expect,” she says. “We’re just doing our best to communicate that we’re keeping their safety in mind and the health of them and their families. We’re thinking about our staff, and their health and safety as well.”
Community events such as story times are cancelled through Labor Day at the Champaign Public Library. Library Director Donna Pittman says it’s for the sake of the community’s health.
“Everything we’re doing is to keep people safe,” she says.
Pittman says despite the changes, she’s excited to welcome people back into the library.
“We’ve been working on reopening plans since we closed, essentially, and how it would look, and arranging furniture and getting staff trained on how we’re going to handle things,” she says. “We’re as well-prepared as we possibly can be.”
Both libraries will continue to offer curbside pickup indefinitely.
Dana Cronin is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter: @DanaHCronin