Things looked a little different when the Hoopeston Public Library re-opened its doors last week.

After being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the library re-opened its doors for patrons June 29 with new procedures and restrictions aimed at keeping patrons and staff members safe.

The most notable change can be seen at the library’s main desk which now features plexiglass to separate staff.

Director Tricia Freeland said plexiglass has been installed at both service desks and staff have been provided various types and sizes of masks.

Cleanliness has always been a priority for the library, Freeland said, stating that they have had antibacterial hand sanitizer on-hand and wiped down returned books.

“We have always had a very cleanly style,” she said. “So we’ve always antibacterial available. We’ve always wiped down every book. The only difference we’re doing now is the 72-hour isolation of items once they come back.”

Beyond these measures, Freeland said the library is taking a “Grab and Go” approach for the time being, asking patrons to select their books and depart from the library.

As such, she said, they have closed off the reading areas around the building.

“We have closed-off with caution tape all the reading areas and chairs and furniture,” she said. “We’re calling it a ‘Grab and Go.’ We want to provide what they want, but we want it be on a ‘Come get what you and please go ahead and go’ basis.”

Freeland said the library is now allowing patrons who previously would have used the reading areas to read newspapers and magazines in the library to check out these periodicals for a week-long period.

While the reading and lounge areas have been closed-off, Freeland said computers will still be available for essential use only.

A limited number of public computers will be available for essential use only. Patrons will be limited to 30 minutes on a computer and must wear a mask. Facebook and other social media or games will not be allowed. All computer work areas will be sanitized between patron uses.

Freeland encourages all patrons visiting the library to wear masks or face-coverings.

In addition to the reading areas, the children’s reading and play areas in the Children’s Room have been closed.

“All toys and activities have been put away for the foreseeable future,” Freeland said.

The children’s room will be open for checkouts and returns only. No unaccompanied children under age 12 will be allowed in the building.

The library’s meeting rooms are also closed to the public and aren’t available for use right now.

As a result, all in-library programs have been cancelled, Freeland said, though the library is presenting several take-home programs for patrons.

Freeland said the library partnered with WILL to provide packets for pre-kindergarten-second grade students. A limited number of packets are still available.

Children’s Librarian Janell Sechriest also developed a packet for youths that provides them with activities they can do at home.

Freeland said library staff member JoAnn Charbonneau is also working on developing craft-to-go bags for adults so that patrons can take the bags home and do the craft activities at home.

Freeland said inter-library loans will resume July 6.

She said the service may be slow due to isolation issues that library have to follow for the safety of everybody.

Beyond these changes, Freeland said the library is just asking patrons to practice social distancing and be respectful of staff while in the library.

“We’re just trying to be safe,” she said.

Prior to re-opening, the library offered patrons curbside pick-up service.

Freeland said that program went well and patrons responded positively to it.

“I felt like people were just very happy to start getting items again,” she said.

Curbside checkout, copy and fax service will still be available for any patrons who want or need to limit contact.

She said they’ve also responded well to the above mentioned changes since the library opened early last week.

“Everybody has been very respectful and just happy that they can come back in to do whatever they need,” she said. “It has gone very very well. And we’re glad to be able to help the community again.”

Asked if there was any kind of timeline for how long the current procedures will be in place at the library, Freeland said things will be this way for the foreseeable future.

Freeland said they will be watching how the schools proceed once the school year starts.

Freeland said most libraries around the state and beyond will be waiting to see what the schools do.

“We’re all kind of waiting to see what the schools do,” she said.

Freeland said she doesn’t believe the library will need to fully close again, feeling that, at the worst, they would just return to curbside service if the situation changed.

Of course, she said, everything will depend on the state’s plans and guidelines.

New library hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m-6 p.m; Tuesday, noon – 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information about library services, call 217-283-6711.