Urbana Free Library reopens

By Rukayah Hussein

Libraries are important pillars of our communities, whether we realize it or not. You could not set foot in your local library for years, yet you probably wouldn’t be able to imagine living in an area that doesn’t have a library within a reasonable distance. Last March, when the world was shut down, one of the most notable losses, at least for me, were libraries. I always felt like libraries would still be open and that I would always be able to go to the library.

There are many invaluable reasons why libraries are important and vital aspects of our lives, regardless of whether or not they seem obsolete to you or not. Sure, most everything can be found online, including video and reading materials — but libraries continue to evolve to meet the community’s needs. They are continually offering technology services, group activities, storytime for children, and more. Libraries are among the few places left in our society where you can enter and not be expected to pay for anything. I could spend hours at the library, browsing the stacks, sitting and doing work, and even bringing my little brother so that he can play with the toys and art materials my local library provides.

The Urbana Free Library has recently reopened after closing its doors to the public to meet COVID-19 health and safety precautions. While many libraries have been able to provide a curbside pick-up for books and other materials during their closures, nothing can beat the feeling of browsing for your books at the library. In light of their reopening, there still limitations and restrictions in place so that patrons and library staff members remain healthy during the pandemic.

According to their website, the Urbana Free Library has set a one-hour time limit per day for every patron during their visit. They call it their “Grab and Go” service, where patrons can browse for their books, but during a limited set amount of time. This reduces the traffic of people in the library at any given time and allows for proper social distancing to take place. Masks are required for anyone entering the building.

There will also be no patron seating except for at the computer stations in the library. Less seating also means less surface for contamination. The computer stations are also limited use, for one-hour a day per patron. Computer stations on the ground floor and the second floor are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Access to the Archives is by appointment, so check out the Urbana Free Library’s website for details about reservations.

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The library’s curbside pickup is still an available option, and you can make requests for the pickup via their website, the mobile app, or by calling in. Check out their website for details, as well as for up to date library service hours. If you don’t have a library card and want to pick up some books to read while we’re all at home, you’re able to create an electronic library card as well!

At this time, there are also no in-person programs. However, the library is offering several activities and programs online, mainly through Zoom. See their events calendar on their website for more information.

Libraries are the home of an abundance of resources, programs, activities, services, and events. Until we can safely go back to normal, the Urbana Free Library, like many other libraries, are doing their best to meet their patrons’ needs! Show some support and pick up a book soon!