Book lovers rejoice; libraries are opening their doors again.
Starting Friday, public libraries were allowed to resume normal services while following health guidelines as Illinois entered Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen the state, Restore Illinois.
Though they have been given the green light to reopen, the Kankakee, Bradley and Bourbonnais public libraries have opted to wait a bit longer.
Kankakee and Bourbonnais libraries both plan to resume normal hours and services July 6; for the Bradley library, the planned reopening date is July 13.
All three plan to continue curbside pickup as an option.
The libraries will also offer walk-in service for patrons to come in and check out a book, use reference services or complete a task on the computer then leave.
Seating throughout the libraries will be temporarily unavailable except for at computers, where time will be limited.
Patrons will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distance, and each library will enforce capacity limits. At Kankakee and Bradley libraries, the limit is 50 patrons at a time, and at Bourbonnais library, the limit is 75.
Kankakee Public Library Director Allison Beasley said patrons won’t be able to spend as much time at the library as they normally would.
“Prior to COVID, we would have people come in and stay the whole time we were open, so we’re obviously not going to have that anymore while we’re in Phase 4,” she said. “You’ll not be able to sit around for two hours and leisurely read the newspaper like you would before.”
Hours at the Kankakee library will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re excited for people to come back into the building and to see our regular patrons,” Beasley said. “We would like to get back to some amount of normalcy here.”
She said computer time will be limited to 30 minutes, but patrons can call to notify staff ahead of time if they have a longer project they need to work on.
The Kankakee library will also maintain its virtual programming, including its summer reading programs and children’s story times on Facebook and Instagram.
“The most important thing is just we’re hoping people will be respectful of wearing masks,” Beasley said. “None of us loves wearing masks. I think we all can agree that’s not the most comfortable thing, but we want everyone to be safe, and we want to continue to be able to do this.”
Bradley Public Library Director Jodie DePatis said the library will reserve the 9 to 10 a.m. hour each day for at-risk patrons. The library will open for everyone else at 10 a.m., with hours extending to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Computer use will be available by appointment with a time limit of one hour.
Regular seating will be unavailable in the library during Phase 4, except for when the heat index reaches 95 or higher and the library acts as a cooling center, DePatis said.
The Bradley library will also continue utilizing online platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Zoom for its summer reading, evening story time and other programs.
The library’s summer food program is also good to go, with breakfast and lunch available for curbside pickup from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We want to make sure that we keep everybody safe and provide the resources for the community,” DePatis said. “Sometimes it’s kind of hard to do both, but we are doing the best we can with all the guidelines that we have.”
Bourbonnais Public Library director Kelly McCully said the library will continue to offer programs online. Meeting rooms will not yet be available, and computer use will be limited to 30 minutes unless the patron is working on something job related.
Virtual services are also still available, including online resources, e-books, audio books, magazines and music available for download for library patrons.
“There’s a lot of different ways you can use the library, whether the doors are opened or closed,” McCully said.
The Bourbonnais library will operate under regular hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve been making these great book recommendations and working on online programming, just providing library services in a whole new way,” McCully said. “But we are really looking forward to being able to see our regular patrons and greeting people inside the library again.”