• Gaishi Miyazaki

Greenwich Library Finally Reopens Its Doors to the Public

Updated: Jul 1

After more than a year of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Greenwich Library has finally reopened its doors to the public, taking some gradual steps to do so. First, through a method called “Express Browsing” that began on April 20, Greenwich Library cardholders obtained a chance to schedule a 20-minute appointment to enter the library in person and peruse the shelves, both at the main library as well as at the branches in Cos Cob, Byram and Old Greenwich. Now, starting from June 2, all of the libraries are fully open to the public with no appointment required!

Before Express Browsing, the library was only available through the non-contact pickup that was implemented last year. Cardholders were able to place holds on books and materials online and pick them up at the outside of the library in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Though when it came to actually entering the library, patrons were only allowed to make appointments for the use of computers, copiers and scanners as well as visiting the Innovation Lab.

Express Browsing loosened the restrictions a bit more as it gave patrons an opportunity to physically visit the library and browse books themselves by scheduling a 20-minute appointment. It also allowed them to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere that is unique to libraries.

“We are pleased to be able to launch in-person Express Browsing, the service so many patrons have told us they miss the most,” said Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, Greenwich library director. “The Library has been open for patrons to make appointments to use the computers and printers since September, so with infection rates decreasing in the community and the increase of vaccinations now, it made sense to begin a new phase of reopening.”

During Express Browsing, visitors would first check-in at the Welcome Desk before proceeding to the shelves. All patrons ages two and older were required to keep their masks on, covering their mouths and nose at all times, and staff and patrons also maintained a social distance of 6 feet inside the building. First-floor restrooms were available on a limited basis, and the elevators to the third-floor Children’s Room were also limited to two passengers or one family at a time. Innovation Lab appointments were also available to those ages 13 and older, but children had to be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Now, after Express Browsing, the library is fully open. In spite of this great and exciting news, the library is still very cautious about the safety of its staff and patrons. Ormerod-Glynn had specifically stated that the safety of their patrons, staff and community has been their “highest priority” and is something that “will continue to be paramount” even after the reopening. Ormerod-Glynn also took the time to thank the patrons for their “flexibility and patience” up until this day. For those who are not comfortable returning to the library yet, the library is still offering no contact pick-up with limited hours.

Additionally, not only did the library reopen to its visitors — it also returned with a sleek new look. The library started the Reimagine Renovation project in 2019, and is finally able to showcase its results to the public. Some highlights of the innovation that significantly repurposed the building to meet the changing needs of the community include a state-of-the-art performance theater with a smaller black box theater, a new lower-level entrance that boasts a stunning two-story glass atrium with a floating staircase up to the first floor, a new Main Reading Room with long tables, comfortable chairs, good lighting and plenty of outlets, and a much larger Program Room on the third-floor Children’s Library section. Teens also have a space of their own with comfortable seating, tables, and nooks to study, connect and collaborate. An adjacent Innovation Lab is equipped with tech tools like laser engravers, 3D printers and even virtual reality.

Patrons can also take a break from book browsing to visit the new light-filled Café at Greenwich Library, a partnership with Abilis; the cafe serves coffee and tea, as well as delicious breakfast and lunch options from local restaurants that can be ordered both in person and online. A few tables at the Café will be available for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout, and those who wish to order online for pickup can also do so through the Café website.

“We join our entire community feeling increasingly hopeful about our prospects for a wonderful spring and summer at Greenwich Library,” said Ormerod-Glynn. “After being closed for in-person book browsing for more than a year due to COVID-19, we are excited to welcome our patrons back into the Library once again and look forward to reinstating more services in the coming months.”

With the reopening of the library, it is clear that the community is finally transitioning back into normal. Yet, we must still consider the danger of coronavirus and thus anyone with any signs of illness must refrain from coming to the libraries. Although masks are only required for unvaccinated patrons as well as kids ages 2-12 at the main library, at the branches, all patrons ages 2 and up must keep a mask on covering their mouth and nose at all times, and anyone ages 2 and up who are visiting the Children’s Room at the main library must also wear a mask. In addition, a physical distance of 6 feet from other visitors as well as the staff to prevent the transmission of the virus is also mandated, and in order to accomodate all of the visitors, the library is also asking patrons to limit their stay to a maximum of three hours and a maximum of 30 minutes in the Children’s Room. As of this time, individual and group rooms will remain closed to the public. Keeping in mind these important safety guidelines, we can finally return to the library.

For more information on upcoming events and latest updates, be sure to follow the library’s social media, website and enewsletter as there will be various virtual programs and in-person storytimes held outside for children planned for this upcoming summer.

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