Loading

The Challenge of Reopening Libraries

Libraries Strive to Stay ‘Community Living Rooms’ as They Reopen

Safely lending books is just the beginning. Libraries are figuring out everything from how to remain welcoming spaces to how to respond to changing reader behavior.

By Elizabeth A. Harris

In pockets of Virginia, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio, there are books sitting in quarantine.

They are public library books that have been returned, and then spend at least three days sitting on tables or in big metal carts, carefully labeled with the dates they came in. After that, they can they go back on the shelves.

Libraries around the country are tiptoeing toward reopening, but they’re not just trying to figure out how to safely lend out books. These are community hubs where parents bring their toddlers for story time, where people come to use the computer, where book groups meet. Now all of that has to be rethought.

“It’s awful because it’s the opposite of what we normally try to do,” said Karen Kleckner Keefe, the executive director of the Hinsdale Public Library just outside of Chicago. “We want to be the community living room, we want everyone to stay and get comfortable. And to design service to prevent lingering and talking is so different from everything we’ve been working toward.”Read the full story at The New York Times.

© Literary Affairs, 2005-2020. All Rights Reserved.