Join the story at Marshalltown Public Library

T-R photo by Anna Shearer — Kathy Buschbom looks for picture books to read to her grandkids on Wednesday.

The Marshalltown Public Library began the walkthrough phase of reopening on Wednesday with success. Though it is once again open to the public, there are restrictions put in place to keep everyone safe.

The building is open from noon to 6 p.m. and patrons are required to wear masks.

“It’s been great. Everyone’s been really cooperative,” Library Director Sarah Rosenblum said.

Within the first hour, about 30 people went to the library. Rosenblum sat close to the entrance, giving patrons stickers with the time they arrived written on them in order to keep track of how long they had been there. Visits are limited to 45 minutes.

Youth services manager Joa LaVille said the next phase of reopening has been “low-key,” though on Tuesday staff were busy making preparations. One limitation they have to enforce is ensuring no more than 25 patrons are in the library at one time.

Chairs are wrapped in plastic fencing to prevent use at the library on Wednesday.

“It’s gone really well,” LaVille said. “You know, we kind of thought it would be sort of a gentle reopening, but I was surprised. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s like a rock concert.’ There were people waiting outside the doors to make sure they were the first 25 but that’s not going to be an issue at this point, we think.”

She said it is easier to communicate with patrons now that they can talk in person. After LaVille asked a patron if she was doing the online reading program, the patron responded she was tired of doing things online. LaVille was able to explain the only required online activity is recording the reading time.

“It’s always helpful to talk to people in person to see how they’re taking things. We’re happy to see customers again,” she said.

Staff have certainly been busy making the library as safe as possible.

Arrows have been taped to the floor to assure people walk in the same direction, and chairs have been covered in plastic fencing to prevent use.

Library Director Sarah Rosenblum sits at the entrance of the library, giving people stickers with the time they arrive and asking them if they have had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in order to keep people safe.

Despite the limitations, community members are happy to be back.

“I read to my grandchildren over Facetime and we go through a lot of books,” Kathy Buschbom said. “So it’s nicer to come in and pick them out.”

She flipped through picture books to find the right one.

“It’s nice to get in here. I very much enjoy it,” Buschbom said.

While curbside pick-up is still available and an option for those who want to social distance, many find nothing compares to coming to the library in person.

“It’s fabulous,” Kristina Dulaney said. “We did do the curbside pick-up, but it’s nothing like just coming in quick and picking up stuff. It’s wonderful.”

Steps should still be taken to keep everyone safe. People who have been exposed to the virus should not visit the library, and those who do come should social distance from others. More restrictions can be found on the library’s website.

Library reopening rules:

• The building is open to patrons from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

• Visitors will be required to wear a mask. The library will have a limited supply for people who do not have a mask.

• Babies and toddlers do not need to wear masks, but need to remain in immediate supervision by a parent or caregiver.

• Children ages 9 and younger must have immediate supervision by someone who is 15 years of age or older.

• Families are asked to stay together when visiting the library.

• Visits will be limited to 45 minutes or less.

• Toys, tablets, touch-screen computers and games in the youth department will not be available.

• Meeting rooms are not available and most seating options have been removed.

• Bathroom usage is limited to emergency situations.

• Computer use is limited to 40 minutes and only available by appointment during walkthrough hours. Computers can be reserved by calling 641-754-5738, extension 4. Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be available.

• Library materials can be returned in the outdoor book returns in the walk-up book drop in the front of the building or the drive-up return on the back.

• Returned materials will be quarantined for five days.

• Book donations will not be accepted.

• Cash and change only will be accepted for the copy machine. The fax machine is not available.

• Debit and credit cards will be accepted for fines and fees.

• Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.

• Curbside pickup will continue from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday; and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

• Library staff will continue to be available by phone from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.


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