Vernon Area Public Library to remain closed indefinitely, officials say

  • Paper bags containing reserved materials await patron pickup inside the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire. While many suburban libraries have reopened this month, Vernon Area officials have decided to keep the library building closed indefinitely.

    Paper bags containing reserved materials await patron pickup inside the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire. While many suburban libraries have reopened this month, Vernon Area officials have decided to keep the library building closed indefinitely. Courtesy of Vernon Area Public Library

 
 
Updated 7/22/2020 2:44 PM

Lincolnshire's Vernon Area Public Library will remain closed to the public indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have announced.

Even though many other suburban libraries have reopened their doors, Vernon Area officials believe taking that step would create too much of a health risk to patrons and employees.

 

"The highest form of public service we can provide is to protect the health and safety of our public," spokeswoman Catherine Savage said. "It is our ethical obligation to avoid any service models that put our community in jeopardy."

During a board meeting held remotely Monday, administrators recommended the building at 300 Olde Half Day Road remain off limits to patrons. Trustees agreed without taking a formal vote.

"We felt that opening the building up would bring too many people into contact with each other," board member George Goldstein said Wednesday. "It's just not what we feel would be a safe situation."

Vernon Area's various online services -- including video and concert streaming, e-books and audiobooks -- will remain active. The library has offered curbside pickup service since late June, and that will continue.

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Patrons can place holds via vapld.info and then retrieve the items when they're ready to be picked up. Calling (224) 543-1485 or (224) 543-1486 is an option for reserving materials, too.

The library's interior has changed dramatically since patrons last were inside the building in mid-March. Tables, chairs and some displays have been removed from public areas, and those spaces have been taken over by employees to satisfy social distancing guidelines.

"We don't have people sitting in desks next to each other anymore," Savage said. "The spacing (for) employees takes up the entire public floor as well as the staff space."

About 50 library employees report to work each day to catalog new materials, fulfill curbside orders and perform other tasks, Savage said.

Other employees work from home. They're answering reference questions, leading online programs, making objects on the library's 3D printer for patrons and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have provided nearly uninterrupted service on every front -- we are just delivering those services in new ways," Savage said. "The only thing that's off the table is access to the building."

In contrast, the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, the Cook Park Library in Libertyville, the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills, the Naperville Public Library and the Arlington Heights Memorial Library are among those that have reopened to the public.

Goldstein said Vernon Area officials believe it would be a mistake to reopen the building, see infection rates rise and then have to close down again.

"We feel that caution is a better option," he said.

For more information and updates, visit vapld.info/service-updates.html.

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