Queens Public Library is moving ahead with its gradual reopening process announcing that eight additional branches across the borough will reopen with limited “to-go” service six days a week starting on Monday, Aug. 10.
Central and Flushing libraries remain closed to the public, but open to staff who are processing materials and requests.
The additional openings are part of QPL’s plan to reopen its physical locations while protecting the health and safety of the public and the Library’s staff. Called “QPL’s Path Forward in the Era of COVID-19,” the plan is available here.
In addition to the Library’s Bayside, Bellerose, East Elmhurst, Kew Gardens Hills, Laurelton, Long Island City and Peninsula branches — which have welcomed more than 3,200 customers who checked out 8,500 items and had 17,300 requests and 28,000 returns since reopening July 13 — the Whitestone, Astoria, Cambria Heights, Jackson Heights, Queensboro Hill, Rego Park, Ridgewood and South Ozone Park branches also will offer to-go service.
“These numbers, along with very positive feedback from our staff and customers, indicate a strong demand for our resources,” QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “More importantly, we have heard from many people who have said that they feel safe and protected in our branches, whether they are working in or visiting them.”
Under the to-go model, customers can pick up materials in a designated area of each building and drop them off in exterior return machines. Materials can be requested online, through the QPL app, or by phone.
Like the other seven buildings now in use, the additional eight will undergo extensive cleaning and all returned materials will be set aside, of “quarantined,” for 96 hours before they are put back into circulation, in accordance with expert recommendations.
“What drove our decision to reopen more locations was everyone’s adherence to our safety protocols, and other factors such as continued low rates of COVID-19 infections citywide and smooth customer and staff flow,” Walcott said.
In addition, 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 to-go 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. In addition, the Library will continue to invest in virtual programs, eBooks and other online sources.