Elgin library, two branches reopening Monday with changes

  • The checkout counter has plexiglass partitions at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

      The checkout counter has plexiglass partitions at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Signage and arrows on the floor indicate the new rules at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin Tuesday.

      Signage and arrows on the floor indicate the new rules at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin Tuesday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Plexiglass partitions now separate workstations in a computer room at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

      Plexiglass partitions now separate workstations in a computer room at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Signs and arrows mark one-way exiting and entering for the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

      Signs and arrows mark one-way exiting and entering for the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/1/2020 4:49 AM

The Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and its two branches will reopen July 6 with strict requirements for patrons, including wearing face coverings, physically distancing and having children under age 13, up from age 8, accompanied by a caregiver.

The library board had a special meeting Monday to approve reopening with capacity limits and a slew of measures such as less furniture, closed meeting and study rooms -- with some exceptions -- and having patrons ask for materials from the early learning center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The main library will have a limit of 250 people. There will be a maximum 40 people at the Rakow branch in Elgin and 20 people at the South Elgin branch.

"Our concern is the safety of social distancing with children. We are trying to open in the safest manner possible," library spokeswoman Denise Raleigh said. "This is our best strategy for opening."

"It's really bare bones as a library goes," Executive Director Carole Medal said.

David Kay, a digital services clerk for Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, works behind a plexiglass partition Tuesday in a library computer room. The library is set to reopen July 6.
  David Kay, a digital services clerk for Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, works behind a plexiglass partition Tuesday in a library computer room. The library is set to reopen July 6. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Board members said they know reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in Phase 4, might provoke anxiety in some people. Trustee Patricia Harkin said she's comforted by the fact the cases of the disease have been decreasing in Illinois.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tracy Hanson, senior customer relations team leader, told the board she believes most staff members are eager to reopen.

"We have your back to the extent that we can," board President Jean Bednar said.

Stickers on the floor mark physical distancing near the information desk at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
  Stickers on the floor mark physical distancing near the information desk at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

The library reopened earlier in June for drive-up services and computer use by appointment, particularly important for those who have to fill out forms for court, housing, unemployment and job searches, Medal said.

Circulated materials returned by patrons are being quarantined for three days based on research done by the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums project, Medal said. Trustee Amanda Garcia asked about the risk of patrons touching materials while browsing. Medal said most libraries are not concerned about that, although a few have closed its stacks to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Drinking fountains are shut off and a study room has become a furniture storage room at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
  Drinking fountains are shut off and a study room has become a furniture storage room at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

Under the new rules, the main library will close an hour early so staff members can clean their spaces, in addition to cleaning throughout the day and employing a cleaning service.

The main library also will be open only to "vulnerable populations" -- seniors and people with medical conditions at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 -- for the first hour Monday to Thursday. Those measures are being finalized at the two branches.

The library will make accommodations for those who are medically prevented from wearing face coverings, Medal said. Others who don't want to wear them -- except children under age 2 -- will be asked by security to leave, she said.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.