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RACINE – If you’ve missed searching the Racine Public Library (RPL) shelves for that next great read, or just long for the smell of books again, your wait is almost over. RPL, 75 Seventh St., begins the first phase of a “gradual reopening” on Monday, April 19.

Closed to the public since mid-March of last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPL Board of Trustees, the City of Racine Public Health Department and library staff developed a plan to allow patrons to begin using the library on a limited basis.

Among the provisions that library users can expect are: • Total building occupancy (including patrons and library staff) will be limited to 50 people.• Masks (covering the mouth and nose) will be required for all patrons ages 2+ and library staff members. Disposable masks will be available at the library entrance.• Visits limited to 45 minutes.• Reduced seating within the library.• Plexiglass shields at select service points.• Hand sanitizing stations throughout the building.

In addition, the library’s public computers will be availableon a limited basis, returned library materials will be quarantined for 24 hours and the building will be deep cleaned nightly after closing.

Effective April 19, RPL hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.

“While the physical library building doors have been closed, the RPL staff has done a tremendous job constantly adapting and reinventing themselves. They’ve done a remarkable job servicing our community through our curbside pickup, the call center, and the internet access,” said Angie Zimmermann, RPL executive director. “But, alas, our list may also be somewhat lengthy of things we’ve missed during this time, but it all really comes back to and concerns one thing: the patrons. We’ve missed seeing our patrons and can’t wait to welcome you all safely back into the building.”

Zimmermann added that the RPL Board and staff will take guidance from the Health Department regarding when the library can take additional in-person opening steps. However, as COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to climb, she anticipates more changes by July or August.

As the RPL staff missed its many patrons, it has learned that patrons have missed a lot of things about the library. 

“We’ve heard many, many patrons express what they’ve missed from the library throughout the past year – from the beloved staff, the assistance from and conversations/interactions with staff, the smell of books and browsing the stacks, the friendly and familiar children’s librarians’ faces, the in-person programs, assistance with technology, climbing into the bookmobile to find their next great read, simply walking through the front doors,” said Zimmermann. “Several have said they’ve missed the calmness and safe sentiments they feel when coming to the library.”

The library’s curbside pickup of materials will continue. Materials may be checked out via the RPL website and picked up outside the library entrance. Call 262-636-9246 when you arrive.

For more about the upcoming RPL reopening, the library website has this FAQ section here.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...