Emily Bunyan says though there is no definitive date, she’s hopeful the Knox County Public Library can reopen the first week of July, as part of the final phase of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s back-on-track plan.
But the main library’s building at 502 N. Seventh St. will function differently than patrons are used to — at least for awhile. Gone for the foreseeable future will be the days of slowly perusing aisle after aisle of books, magazines and newspapers — a change dictated by the threat of COVID-19.
Bunyan, the library's director, said she and staff are envisioning patrons requesting appointment times to visit the library, where they’ll then be greeted at the door and guided to the materials or services needed.
“It will be more controlled, more transactional than relational in that we will have liaisons working with people during their visits to find out the purpose of the visit and help them achieve that goal,” Bunyan said.
When patrons do return to the main building, they’ll also be met with the results of an interior renovation that has been underway since the COVID-related closure in mid March.
New flooring, a comfortable seating area and new technology are a few things patrons will note when they return to the main branch building.
However, in the coming weeks, the library will continue offering limited services out of the Vincennes Fortnightly Clubhouse, 421 N. Sixth St., a system which Bunyan says has been going well so far.
For the past two weeks library staff have offered curbside pick up of library materials, as well as copy, fax and printing services.
“We’re so much busier filling requests for books and materials than I thought we would be,” Bunyan said.
Though the main building is closed (nearly all full-time library staff are back to work), Bunyan says they still keep incredibly busy, which is evidenced by the sometimes overflowing book return outside.
“We empty that at least five days a week,” she said, adding that more than one thousand books have been returned by patrons since the library closed its doors on March 13.
She also noted that for the health and safety of staff and patrons, once books are collected from the book return they are left sitting for three days and then sanitized by a member of the staff before being re-shelved.
Though the library’s doors are still closed for now, library staff hope that parents will encourage their children to participate in the virtual summer reading program.
Set to kick off at the end of this month with a live streaming event in conjunction with the WonderLab Museum of Science in Bloomington, Bunyan says they have plenty of good online activities in store for participants.
This summer’s program will include videos of singers, storytellers and guest readers, and Bunyan says not to worry, “kids will still be rewarded for the minutes they spend reading.”
The library’s board of directors did not meet in regular session on Tuesday. Their next meeting is currently scheduled for June 16.