It has been several months before the public has been able to walk through the doors of local libraries. That changes this month as the Marshall Community Library and Karl Junginger Memorial Library reopen to the public.

According to Marshall Library Director Callie Armstrong, the building opened Monday with pre-pandemic hours. Karl Junginger Memorial Library Director Kelli Mountford announced the Waterloo facility also opened to the public on Monday with the limited hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“KJM Library staff are looking forward to being able to have patrons more fully enjoy our library collection once again,” Mountford said.

However, people stopping by the libraries will see some notable changes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The circulation desks at both Marshall and Waterloo will have Plexiglass sneeze guards in place to separate staff and patrons. All staff will also be wearing face masks. Patrons are encouraged, but not required, to wear face masks when they visit.

A total of 12 patrons at a time are allowed in the Marshall Community Library. KJM will allow up to 50 visitors at one time but notes all youth younger than 16 years old will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Both libraries will offer the regular services, such as check-ins, check-outs, pick-ups, placing holds, photocopying, and faxing. Mountford said computers will be accessible by appointment for a one-hour time slot. Those who need to use headphones at the KJM computers are asked to bring their own headphones or purchase earbuds at the circulation desk at the price of $1.

Armstrong said the Marshall Community Library has elected to space out its computers for patron usage. Both facilities will sanitize the computers after each use.

To cut down on people using the libraries as a social gathering spot, most of the seating and all of the toys at the Marshall Community Library has been removed.

The KJM Library is following similar actions by removing most of the seating and closing the young adult seating and children’s play areas.

When deciding when to reopen the building, Armstrong took into consideration the number of local infection rates, the need for library services, and guidance from Dane County and the Wisconsin Department of Instruction. She also had support from the local library board.

“With the guidance of the library board of trustees and making sure we have PPE and Plexiglas sneeze guards at the front circulation desk we are confident we can open so that our staff and patrons stay staff and healthy,” Mountford said.

Despite the fact the libraries will be open, there will be no in-person events occurring such as playgroups, story times, book clubs and the popular summer reading program. Both libraries will continue to have virtual events, including using the Beanstack app for the summer reading program.

Armstrong and Mountford said those who would prefer to continue using curbside pick-up will be able to do so. Additionally, Marshall staff will attempt to set aside the first hour of each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for patrons more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“We ask others in the community to help us protect those individuals by abiding by this,” Armstrong said.

While the staff is looking forward to having visit the library again, health and safety of the community remains a top priority.

“We will be working hard to help keep folks safe, and we ask that library users do their part to help protect our staff and each other,” Armstrong said.

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