Library Reopens, Balancing Public Safety with Access to Resources

By Shelby Rowe Moyer

The best part about visiting the library is perusing the stacks for new reads, and now that the Lake Geneva Public Library has opened to the public again you can do just that. As of Monday, June 15, the library started offering limited capacity public access hours for patrons.

Before this, library cardholders could only check out items via a curbside pickup service, but after researching state and local guidelines, Library Director Emily Kornak says they had the needed guidelines and structure to begin gradually reopening.

“It’s a challenge, because this virus is so new,” Kornak says. “More information comes out and things change a little and we have to keep adapting. But we’re trying to roll with it and watch recommendations that come out.”

Kornak says the reopening is happening in stages and is being dictated, in part, by how long it takes staff to sanitize high-touch areas after each patron comes in and how many people in the library at one time will affect the health and safety of staff and the public.

For now, the library is open during limited hours so staff can thoroughly sanitize everything. Twenty patrons are allowed in the library at once and everyone who enters the library is required to wear a face mask — disposable masks are being provided for those that don’t have one.

Six public computers are available, and staff are requesting that when you arrive, you let them know you’re planning to use one. One-on-one help is not available right now.

Magazines and newspapers aren’t available for in-person browsing, but they can be accessed online through the library’s news bank portal.

The in-person programming is still cancelled, at least through the end of August, Kornak says, but some of the events are now virtual and can be found on the library’s online calendar.

“COVID flipped everything on its head for us,” she says. “We had a lot of momentum coming into this year with some really great programs. I have some really sad librarians who put a ton of time and effort into this phenomenal year of programming and it [COVID] just pulled the rug right out from under their feet.”

Because the library has been closed, extra online resources have been added, including the online access of the New York Times (available even if you don’t have a library card) and Hoopla. Hoopla allows library cardholders to stream or download e-books, audiobooks, TV shows, movies, comic books and more with no waiting time. You can check out four items per month, and they’re avialable immediately.

Patrons can also use Brainfuse, an online tutoring service for students in elementary through postsecondary school. An adult learning component of the service allows you to upload your resume for critique and recommendations or prepare for job interviews.

As time goes on, library staff will post its rules and restrictions on its website as guidelines soften. For more information on what to expect when visiting the library, click here.

Looking for a good read? Kornak has some suggestions:

  • Mystery writer Michael Connelly has several series of books Kornak loves. Each features an entanglement of characters that weave in and out of each series.
  • Author Julia Keller writes the Bell Elkins novels, which follows the story of a West Virginian prosecutor, and they have been heralded as a haunting mystery series.
  • Kornak just finished reading “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who explores racial history in American through a series of letters he writes to his son.