Queens Public Library announced Thursday it will begin opening some of its branches following a four-month temporary closure to slow the spread of COVID-1. Starting Monday, July 13, QPL will reopen seven locations across the borough with limited “to-go” service six days a week.
Additionally, nine other branches will accept returns around the clock, seven days a week. The initial steps to reopen QPL’s physical locations while protecting the health and safety of the public and the Library’s staff are part of the reopening plan, QPL’s Path Forward in the Era of COVID-19,” available here.
“As we begin to step cautiously back into our physical spaces and welcome customers inside, we will continue to reimagine and expand our services and respond to the diverse needs of the public,” QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We recognize the disproportionate toll the virus has taken on our communities and will reopen cautiously, gradually, and intentionally, in stages, starting with a small number of locations offering limited service to the public and expanding over time as circumstances allow. We know our staff and the communities we serve are resilient and strong, and together, in the face of the ongoing crisis, we will rebuild.”
The seven branches that are set to provide to-go service for customer pickup are:
- Bayside Library (214-20 Northern Blvd.)
- Bellerose Library (250-6 Hillside Ave.)
- East Elmhurst Library (95-06 Astoria Blvd.)
- Kew Gardens Hills Library (72-33 Vleigh Pl.)
- Laurelton Library (134-26 225th St.)
- Long Island City Library (37-44 21st St.)
- Peninsula Library (92-25 Rockaway Beach Blvd.)
Materials can be requested online, through the QPL app, or by phone, starting July 6 and the materials can be found in a designated area of each building beginning July 13. Additionally, each branch will accept returns at their exterior return machines.
In addition to their geographic location, the seven sites were selected for their size, layout, and condition as QPL assesses whether and how the new service model and operating procedures — including physical distancing and other safety measures — would work in other libraries.
The following libraries will accept returns at external return machines or book drops but remain closed to the public:
- Astoria Library (14-01 Astoria Blvd.)
- Cambria Heights Library (218-13 Linden Blvd.)
- Central Library (89-11 Merrick Blvd.)
- Flushing Library (41-17 Main St.)
- Jackson Heights Library (35-51 81 St.)
- Queensboro Hill Library (60-05 Main St.)
- Rego Park Library (91-41 63 Drive)
- Ridgewood Library (20-12 Madison St.)
- South Ozone Park Library (128-16 Rockaway Blvd.)
Each of the buildings that will be in use during this initial stage will undergo extensive cleaning and all returned materials will be set aside, or “quarantined,” for 72 hours before they are put back into circulation, in accordance with expert recommendations. All staff and visitors will be required to wear masks and practice physical distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available at all open branches.
At this time, there will be no on-site public programs, browsing, meeting room availability, seating, public computers, or in-person reference service, and book donations will not be accepted. Customers can check out materials without accruing fines until October, 1 at the earliest, and fine-based library card blocks will be temporarily lifted. Applications for library cards will be accepted online only, and cards can be picked up at one of the locations offering to0go service.
Depending on the experiences of the initial locations and as circumstances allow, QPL will gradually and carefully open more branches and provide additional services. Additionally, QPL will continue to invest in virtual programs, eBooks, and other online resources, which have been a lifeline to many customers.
“We are grateful to the public for their support and understanding as we navigate our new realities together,” Walcott said. ‘The Library’s incredible staff are working hard to prepare for this next step, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back safely.”