Well, we did it! We opened back up after our lengthy COVID closure and the first week went surprisingly well!
While doing our reopening research, we discovered all kinds of things that could go wrong. What if people refused to wear masks? What if people crowded others too much? What if people didn’t like the hours we were open? What if people did not cooperate with our 15-minute time limit?
But do you know what? None of that happened. While we were prepared for the worst, what surprised us most is the reaction we saw when people walked into the library for the first time in six months. I actually saw a patron bring a hand over her heart and emotionally exclaim, “Ohhhhh, how I have missed this place!”
And it was not just one person. All week long, we have witnessed this scenario many times over by people of many different ages. I have seen mothers tear up as they bring their kids inside, grateful for a little return to normalcy. I witnessed elderly patrons smiling hugely behind their masks, so grateful to be able to pick out some new reading material.
And then there are the children! It is so wonderful to see them bouncing around again in our children’s area. While adults are very aware of how our social and business lives have been restricted, we sometimes overlook the way it has changed the lives of kids. Most children have been denied visits to school, to see grandparents, trips to playgrounds, vacations, and even simple outings to the grocery store. Six months of “missing out” seems like an eternity to kids, so it is exciting to see their joy as they get reacquainted with the library.
This new phase of reopening is what we call Library Express…brief 15-minute visits inside to allow you time to pick out your own books. While our curbside pickup phase was great for some, we discovered there are plenty of people who were not comfortable with the process, so they just waited for us to open our doors again. It is comforting to see those people back inside our buildings. And yet, there are some who are personally not ready to come inside the library yet, so those people are calling to see if they can still get curbside pickup service. The answer is YES! All you need to do is call the library location where you want to pick your materials up and arrange a time.
Another question we had was from a patron who wondered if we had kept up with ordering new books and DVDs during our closure. Yes, we have! In fact, our shelves are literally bursting with new and exciting titles for you to check out. We would love nothing more than for you to take them home for a while!
Fall is often a time we think about homecoming events and the Library Express phase is our version of homecoming for the library. So, whenever you are ready, we hope you will venture back inside our hallowed halls and join our library homecoming party! And oh, how we have missed you all!