Libraries across Minnesota expand in-person services as COVID pandemic wanes

Library locations in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota are inching closer to normal.
Author:
Publish date:

After a year of minimal and modified operations due to COVID-19, some of the state's biggest library systems are reopening, moving closer to a resumption of normal services.

 “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries are here for people to reconnect, learn, and find joy in being together in community with neighbors after a year in which distance has been the norm," said St. Paul Library Director Catherine Penkert in an announcement Wednesday.

That library system expanded open hours and the in-person services available at its 13 library locations across St. Paul this week, shifting resources away from virtual offerings toward more normal operations. Patrons can browse the collection without a time limit, meeting rooms are available (though a limited number), and visitors will find furniture and desks for seating.

The library also said "most library services will resume, including in-person events and programs, which will be held outdoors."

Masks are not required, but are encouraged for anyone who is not fully vaccinated. Social distancing is also still encouraged.  

Hennepin County libraries are in a similar spot. Visitor time limits are gone, and the plan was for most furniture to be reinstalled by June 8.

Masks are still required for everyone, per Hennepin County policy, and the libraries will maintain certain social distancing measures - not all furniture will be out, computer stations will be spaced apart, and meeting rooms will be available again June 21.

The only exceptions are the Osseo and St. Bonifacius libraries, which due to their small size are still only accepting returns.

In the Northland, Duluth Public Library opened to the public for in-person services Monday. Visitors can once again browse and check out books, use computers and printers, and simply sit. The children's play areas and in-person programming remain on hold for now, however. The library will continue to offer curbside pickup.

Many library locations that are part of the Arrowhead System have expanded services again, though often still with some restrictions or limitations. The system keeps an updated list here. Members of the Lake Agassiz Regional Library system have been doing the same in recent months.

Public libraries are widely viewed by Americans as valuable parts of the community, and as key sources of information, resources and education. COVID-19 presented challenging circumstances: 98% told the Public Library Association their buildings had been closed due to the pandemic.

Many responded by doing things like leaving the library's Wi-Fi access on even when facilities were shuttered, extending online renewal services and offering new virtual programming, the association said.

Next Up

Minnesota Public Radio MPR

MPR News shakes up its radio schedule, will launch new shows

The changes involve popular hosts Cathy Wurzer, Kerri Miller and Angela Davis.

Wikimedia Commons - Maplewood Mall exterior

Owner of 2 Twin Cities malls files bankruptcy

The group cited the "significant challenges" posed by the pandemic.

blue-green algae mpca

Heat wave leads to early reports of blue-green algae on some Minnesota lakes

The August-like weather could mean a green summer on local lakes.

light rail

Pandemic still significantly impacting Metro Transit ridership

Transit officials said there are signs ridership is slowly rebounding.

Screen Shot 2021-06-15 at 9.06.25 AM

Multi-vehicle crash involving Metro Mobility bus in Andover

One person was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

covid

Delta variant circulating in Minnesota, health officials urge vaccination

"The unvaccinated are still at risk for the virus – and it has a way of finding the unvaccinated."

delta note plane

Minnesota pilot's pre-pandemic note found on parked plane 435 days later

The pilot thought the plane would only be in storage for two weeks. He was wrong.

Screen Shot 2021-06-15 at 7.12.44 AM

Former KARE 11 reporter claims on live TV that Fox Corp. is 'muzzling her'

She says she'll be leaking audio via Project Veritas, a right-wing activist organization that targets media organizations using sting operations.

State Capitol.

Lawmakers reach agreement on eviction moratorium off-ramp

It would replace the governor's executive order that has been in place during the pandemic.

Pixabay - keys home house

Median sale price of Twin Cities homes hit whopping $350,000 in May

High demand and low supply is the reality for buyers throughout much of the state.

Sheldon Richardson

Report: Vikings working on reunion with Sheldon Richardson

The defensive tackle played with Minnesota in 2018.

June 7 - New Platform - CROP

Ospreys started a nest on a coop's power pole - so they built a new home for them

A small electrical cooperative went out of its way to help the hopeful osprey pair.

Related

Emilio Estevez in The Public

Emilio Estevez will be at Hennepin Co. Library on Sunday

He'll be doing Q&A for his new film about, what else, a library.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 9.16.06 AM

Emilio Estevez in Minnesota: What you missed

He showed his new film "The Public" at Minneapolis Central Library

Screen Shot 2021-03-11 at 8.07.13 AM

Hennepin County libraries eliminate late fees

Hennepin County Board commissioners said the move will increase accessibility.

'Vinyl listening room' now up and running at Minneapolis Central Library

The opening coincides with a new series of "Vinyl Revival" events at the library

rochester city hall

COVID-19: City of Rochester limiting in-person services, closing recreation facilities

It comes as Olmsted County and the state is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Looking for a book? Google now tells you if it's at your library as an ebook

The new feature works with public library ebook systems.