ROCHELLE — On Tuesday, the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library opened its doors to the public for the first time since closing them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The library at 619 4th Ave. will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Previously it was only open by appointment.
“It feels great to reopen,” Library Director Sarah Flanagan said. “I’m so happy we’re able to get normalcy back to the library. The community has been supportive. We want to make sure people have access. We’ll be happy to see all our patrons after a long year.”
Masks are optional in the library. Children under 14 must be accompanied by a parent at all times. No group study is allowed at study tables. No private study rooms will be available. Child care is not provided.
Flanagan said the toughest part of the pandemic has been having to quarantine library materials. The building is 20,000 square feet and actually lends itself well to social distancing. Flanagan’s concern was books and more possibly being infected with COVID-19 upon return from homes.
“We’re one of the of the only places where something goes to a house and comes back,” Flanagan said. “The library system did a study. We found how long the virus lives on different media surfaces.”
After being returned, materials would go into the library’s basement for seven days and then get checked in and cloroxed and dried before heading back to shelves.
“Nobody was sure how long the virus lived on paper,” Flanagan said. “They moved it to three days. Our delivery system became more relaxed. We’d get calls from families with COVID-19 with our materials. I think we could’ve been a superspreader. That’s why it took so long.”
Library services will be available inside Monday through Saturday. Curbside delivery of materials will only be available Monday through Friday. DVDs and CDs must be returned inside.
Overdue fines on materials are being charged. It is $0.10 per day for books and $1 per day for DVDs and music CDs. All fees for faxing and photocopies will be charged.
For curbside delivery, please call 815-562-3431 when you are outside the library for pickup.
Flanagan believes the library is especially important during the summer when children aren’t in school.
“If you don’t pick up a book all summer, teachers and reading specialists can tell,” Flanagan said. “They fall behind.”
The library’s summer reading program will begin later this month and will take place virtually, Children’s Librarian Connie Avery said. Families can keep track of what kids read and there will be special activities and prizes. The program is for all ages. Information on how to sign up will be forthcoming.
The library will also be doing storytime sessions on Zoom as well as its annual pet show.
“People send in pictures and they go on Facebook,” Avery said. “Everyone gets a small prize. We’re hoping to start in-person programming this fall. We couldn’t reopen and kick off full programming at the same time.”
The library also has a new digital platform called Hoopla. If you have a library card, you can read ebooks and comics, listen to audio books and music and stream programs. The app is available on computers, phones and smart TVs.
Flanagan enjoyed being in the lobby Tuesday when the library opened its doors.
“I’m so excited, happy and grateful,” Flanagan said. “I think it’s very important. We have the support of a great community. We’ve missed all of our patrons. We want things to be normal. Even with the tough year. I’m excited to see everyone.”