The River Forest Public Library, 735 Lathrop Ave., is open to the public at limited capacity and working hard to provide services to patrons even with COVID restrictions in place. 

Currently, browsing, checking out library materials, computer sessions, copying, printing and faxing are all available in person, but visiting the library is a little different than it was in pre-COVID days, with guidelines in place to ensure social distancing and safety of both patrons and staff.

Upon arrival, for example, visitors might see a staff member stationed at the entrance to limit the number of people in the building at one time. And patrons may need to wait until someone leaves before they are allowed to enter since the total occupancy has been reduced. Visitors are asked to limit their time in the library to 30 minutes or less.

Inside, to facilitate social distancing, furniture has been removed or spaced out. The elevator is limited to one person or family at a time, and restrooms are limited to two people or one family at a time. Fewer computers are available, and sessions are limited to 30 minutes or less. Equipment will be cleaned by library staff between uses.

Patrons are allowed to browse books and shelves but are asked not to reshelve anything themselves; browsed and returned items are quarantined before being re-shelved.

Rules for kids are different too. Anyone over two years of age is required to wear a mask, and children under the age of eight must be accompanied by a responsible caretaker. Toys and games in the Children’s Room are currently unavailable, but pre-bagged coloring and activity sheets and craft supplies are available for children to take home.

When patrons have selected items to bring home, they can go to the lobby desk to check out their items. But they’re encouraged to use shelf-checkout stations throughout the library. 

All materials must be returned to the exterior book drop, and returns will be quarantined for seven days, which is why patrons might see books still on their accounts after bringing them back to the library.

Current hours are from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday, and from 1 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. A daily closure from noon until 1 p.m. allows the building to be cleaned and staff to take a meal break. The library is closed on Sundays.

A wide variety of virtual activities is offered for all age groups, including story time for tots, tween meet-ups, and senior discussions. 

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