As the state moves into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan for helping limit the spread of COVID-19, officials at the Riverside Public Library are busy writing up protocols that will allow the library to open its doors to patrons on a limited basis next month.

Library Director Janice Foley confirmed last week that the tentative plan is to open the library on July 8, employing a reservations-only system where patrons will be allowed into limited areas of the building for a maximum of 45 minutes.

We’re not encouraging hanging out in the library,” Foley said in a telephone interview with the Landmark. “You come in, get what you need and go.”

At least initially, the library will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m.; and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The library’s curbside pickup service, initiated June 3, will continue, said Foley.

Anyone wishing to visit the library can request to be either upstairs or downstairs. The library will limit upstairs access to eight people per hour and downstairs access to 10 people or two families in the Youth Services area.

Parents who accompany children to Youth Services will not be allowed to go upstairs and browse the stacks. If they wish to do so, they need to make a separate appointment, Foley said. If patrons wish to use the library’s computers, they need to register to do so.

Patrons will be let into the library every hour on the hour and will be allowed inside for 45 minutes. That will give library staff time to sanitize areas, furniture and devices used by patrons.

The only exception to the 45-minute rule is for people who register to do research in the lower-level genealogy area. Those patrons will be allowed 1 hour, 45 minutes to do research, but only two people will be allowed in that area at a time.

You can make reservations to visit a day in advance or up to five minutes before the hour, if there’s room to accommodate you. People can still get reference questions answered by calling or emailing.

Everyone, both employees and patrons, must wear face coverings while inside the library after it reopens, said Foley.

“People will also need to keep social distance, and there will be plastic shields [between patrons and employees] at the service desk up front and by the reference desk,” Foley said.

Children will not be able to play with toys in the Youth Services area and many of the chairs will be removed in order to ensure social distancing. 

In addition, the Quiet Reading Room will remain closed to the public, as will the Public Meeting Room, which is being used as a quarantine room for library materials returned by patrons. When materials are returned they are placed in the Public Meeting Room for seven days, said Foley.

“We’re taking this very seriously, because we don’t know what the future is,” Foley said. “We want to keep both patrons and staff safe.”