Wauconda Area Library will reopen to public Wednesday

Editor's note: The library's operating hours have been updated.

The Wauconda Area Library will reopen to the public Wednesday - but as is the case at other suburban libraries, safety precautions will be in place to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Perhaps most significantly, patrons will need to call (847) 526-6225 and make appointments to visit the library, 801 N. Main St. Also, everyone must wear masks, and many popular amenities won't be available.

Director Elizabeth Greenup said there's an air of "nervous excitement" among employees as they prepare for reopening.

"The building was built for public use and has felt empty without our patrons," Greenup said. "However, there is a nervousness about safety and a sadness that we can't provide a full experience yet."

The building has been closed to the public since mid-March because of the pandemic. The library board approved the reopening plan Monday.

Patrons will be able to browse for materials and check them out, but they won't be allowed to sit and read or work at tables as they once did.

Additionally, study rooms, vending machines, computers and photocopiers will be off limits, as will the maker space and the play areas in the Kid City youth department.

Visitors will see that tables and other furniture have been rearranged to create barriers and one-way traffic patterns.

Also, plastic shields have been installed at the service desks to separate employees from patrons. Likewise, yellow tape has been applied to the carpet to create social distancing zones.

Greenup's team is going with an appointment-only system to manage patrons' expectations and prevent negative experiences in the building.

"We want patrons to call to make an appointment so we can explain to them what to expect when they arrive," she said. "We were afraid that a parent would show up with three kids in tow expecting Kid City to be fully open. Once they realize it's not, we expected reactions of anger, frustration and tears - all completely understandable."

The library will be open to people who make appointments Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

People with special needs or who are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus can make appointments to visit the library between 9 and 10 a.m. on weekdays.

Employees will clean the library between appointments.

The library has offered grab-and-go service since late June, and that will remain available during operating hours, as well as on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.

Patrons should return items using two exterior book drops. Returned items will be quarantined for five days in a large meeting room before being processed and reshelved.

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The maker space in the youth department of the Wauconda Area Library will be off limits when the facility reopens to the public. Courtesy of Wauconda Area Library
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