Like everyone, everywhere, I’m so ready for the pandemic to be over.

I miss my friends and family and all the things that used to be part of normal life. Fortunately, with vaccines rolling out and new cases dropping, it feels good to finally shift to a more optimistic state of mind.

One more thing to feel positive about is the reopening of the library. The library will reopen shortly after the April election. The exact date is still being determined, but call or check the library website for more information after April 6.

At the library, like everywhere else, the return to normal won’t happen all at once. Masks, social distancing, plexiglass and virtual programs will be here for quite a while.

The library will open in stages, with a focus on safety for our staff and patrons.

The first stage will be to open most areas of the library for browsing and holds pickup for a few hours a day. We will continue to also offer curbside pickup.

Because of social distancing requirements, the children’s room will not be open right away, but there will be lots of kids books available for browsing in the center area of the library.

The focus at first will be on quick “grab and go,” visits where people can come in and get what they need. There will not be any seating or study/work space initially, and visitors will be encouraged to keep visits to 15 minutes or less. The number of people in the building also will be limited and monitored.

Based on public health recommendations and what we know about the virus being transmitted through the air and not from surfaces, the library is no longer quarantining any returned library materials. Any books that you return should be checked-in the same day (or the next day if you use the drive-up book return after hours)

Over the next few months, as new COVID-19 cases continue to go down and vaccination rates go up, we will shift towards more open hours and fewer curbside hours. We will add tables and chairs back into the mix when it is safer for people to linger indoors for longer periods of time.

The last library service to return to normal will be in-person indoor programs and events.

It will be a happy day when we host an in-person author visit or a concert performance or have a parade of smiling little faces coming into the library for story time. This summer, we are planning on hosting a mix of virtual and outdoor programs.

Even if you are vaccinated, please keep in mind when you are out and about in the community that the people around you might not be. So keep those masks on and keep your distance from others while visiting the library.

Masks are going to be required to enter the building. If you can’t wear one, we will continue to offer curbside pickup service and are happy to answer any questions you may have over the phone.

I am very glad the pandemic is waning and we are moving forward, cautiously but optimistically, and will open the library doors to the public again soon.

Stacey Burkart is the director of the Verona Public Library.

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