The Library is Back!

It has taken a pandemic for many of us to realize just how much we take for granted so many of the ordinary things about our daily lives.

One of those things is a trip to the public library. When COVID-19 cases began to surge last March, the Hillsborough County Public Library did the responsible thing and closed the doors to all of their branches. Those doors remained closed for six months. This week, on Nov. 16, a few select locations, including our own Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library, will re-open at 25 percent capacity.

The library never truly left us, however. While their doors were closed, they continued to provide a series of online events and classes, contact-free curbside pick up and drop off, curbside print, scan, fax and copy services – even a borrow by mail program. Librarians were on hand to answer questions and even offer book recommendations by phone. They also expanded their Wi-Fi to encompass the parking lots of several library locations as part of their Park & Surf initiative.

There is nothing quite like experiencing the library first hand, walking through the stacks and leaving with a pile of great reads. While the re-opening is an exciting time, the library’s first priority is the safety of its patrons. There will therefore be a number of precautions in place, including:

• Temperature check upon entry
• Mandatory face masks that cover nose and mouth
• Visits limited to one hour
• No food or drinks
• No children under 17 without a parent
• No donated books at this time
• Meeting and study rooms will remain closed

Curbside services will continue to be offered at those locations that are not yet opening for in-person service. For more information, visit https://www.hcplc.org/reopening.

By Karen Ring

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