All Anoka County libraries, except for the Mississippi Library in Fridley, reopened to the public this week after being shut down for the past three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anoka County is the first library system in the metro area to reopen with limited hours and capacity.|
“Welcome back to the library, we’re so glad you’re here."
Staff greeted visitors outside the front doors of the Crooked Lake Branch Library. There is a 50 percent capacity limit to the number of library patrons allowed into the building at a time. And while masks are not required, they are strongly encouraged.
Library staff are wiping down high touch surfaces, like computers, several times a day. And among the rows of book shelves, arrows on the floor point in the single direction people should walk as they browse materials.
“We’re encouraging social distancing with signage on the floor and on the walls,” said Erin Straszewski, Anoka County’s Library Community Engagement Manager. “We have plexiglass barriers that we put up at the service desk.”
One of the biggest changes will be for computer users.
“They can’t just sign in with their library card,” Straszewski said. Right now we’re trying to keep touch to a minimum, so they’ll be signing in for a guest pass and using the computers whether or not they have a library card.”
And time spent on the computer will be limited too.
“So at about the 50 minute mark we’re having people log off so that if there are people waiting they can use the computers and it also gives a slight buffer to wipe down each computer station in between.”
After the library spent the last three months in lockdown, library patrons are happy to be back.
Most in-person programs for children and adults are not being offered at this time. That means no story time in the children’s area or arts and crafts classes, cooking classes.
Instead, the libraries have virtual programming available online, like the popular children’s story time on Facebook Live.
“Every weekday kids can check in with their parents and still see one of our librarians signing, and reading and talking and playing,” said Straszewski.
Extra signs to read at the library are just a sign of the times.
The libraries limited hours of operation are Monday and Wednesday from 1-7 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 12-6 p.m. As always, the Anoka County Libraries are available online 24/7.