Residents who enjoy reading as a means to escape from everyday life, look no further. Novel enthusiasts can be at peace while browsing for their next read at several Alachua County libraries.
On Sept. 28th, the Headquarters, Millhopper, Tower Road and Alachua libraries began offering browsing hours 3-5 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Due to its size, shortened staff and limited traffic, the Cone Park Branch, located at 2801 E. University Ave., will have browsing hours from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The library district previously offered curbside services in May and expanded to computer appointments in July, spokesperson Rachel Cook wrote in an email. The decision to offer browsing hours was the next step to reopening.
All 12 locations will continue to offer curbside services and computer appointments, she wrote. Patrons can check out materials and sign up or renew a library card.
The library district is taking all the necessary precautions to reopen its branches, Cook wrote.
Patrons are required to wear face masks and participate in a health screening that includes a temperature check and a questionnaire, Cook wrote. The library district installed sneeze guards and sanitation dispensers at the reference and circulation desks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Browsing hours are also scaled down to 10% of the buildings’ occupancy, which is about 60 people, Cook added.
“Patrons have been glad to return to library buildings,” Cook wrote. “We are committed to serving our community while also prioritizing the health and safety of patrons and staff members.
Enrique Lara, an 18-year-old Santa Fe business administration sophomore, visited the Tower Road location Monday. He didn’t know the library was open until he went to return Blue Ocean Strategy, a book about marketing theory, that he had since the spring.
“I can understand how there is hesitation in going back, but I enjoyed my experience and felt safe the whole way,” he said.
Murtaza Siddiqui, a 21-year-old UF computer science engineering senior, frequented Headquarters Library prior to its then-indefinite closure in April.
“I’m stoked that they’re slowly opening up again,” he said. “I’m glad they’re making adjustments to accommodate people as opposed to just staying closed indefinitely.”
As of last week, the Headquarters, Millhopper, Tower Road and Alachua libraries began offering browsing hours 3-5 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays