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Longmont library patrons, staff elated about reopening

“We just missed our patrons. We missed all our familiar faces. It's been so nice today to have people come back in,” said Nancy Kerr, executive director.

The Longmont Public Library is officially open again.

Anticipation and excitement showed as patrons stood in line to be admitted on Thursday. The library had a “nice steady stream of people and people are happy to be back,” said Nancy Kerr, executive director.

The library was happy to see them, too.

“We just missed our patrons. We missed all our familiar faces. It's been so nice today to have people come back in,” Kerr said.

Barbara Thayer, a Longmont resident and library patron, has missed the ability to physically look at a book to do research, although she can find most things on the internet. 

David Loy and Linda Goodhew, nearly daily patrons of the library, missed being able to browse the shelves and the “little book store” the most. “It’s an important part of our life,” the duo said.

“It’s a very friendly place and I just love wandering around here and picking up things myself that I have ordered,” Goodhew said. 

Parents have told library staff they grew tired of reading the same books over and over since the library closed in March and they are excited to have the ability to come in to find a new stack of books to read. 

“I’m a reader so I can’t imagine not having library books for four months,” Kerr said. 

Over the months the building has been closed, library staff have begun and will continue curbside pickup. Additionally, the new books section of the library is “the most crowded, in a good way,” Kerr said.

Being classified as an event by Gov. Jared Polis, libraries across Colorado have had to wait patiently for months before they could once again welcome patrons. 

Now that the doors are open, Kerr said the library is “starting out very conservatively” to protect patrons and staff. Safety measures include only allowing 25 people in the library at a time. 

Parents of small children should be aware toys and manipulatives usually on display are not available, and the children’s section is only open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Library staff is taking the health and safety of patrons seriously by implementing a rotation of frequent cleanings. Thursday, Kerr was scheduled to sanitize the banisters. Staff have been in the building since curbside pickup began, and they have a routine for sanitizing. Reopening meant the routine just needed to be modified to include elevator buttons and kiosks, Kerr said. 

Thayer said she felt the library is “taking good precautions because this is an active disease. They are being very careful.” 

Returned books are still held in quarantine for three days but patrons are still finding their requests are being met speedily. 

“It’s a wonderful library system. I get a lot of books I order and they are so good at getting almost everything that I want,” Loy said. Goodhew added, “and very quickly.”

Loy said, “It’s kind of like a symbol of a return to normality in some way, the first stage of return to the way things used to be even if that’s never going to happen completely.”

Kerr said, “When you are planning to reopen a building during a pandemic, you’re looking for every possible thing that can go wrong. It's easy to concentrate on that instead of concentrating on the absolute joy that people have of coming back into the building and how happy we are to see them. That’s been the best thing today; just seeing the familiar faces come in.”