Welcome Back to the Library!

Post-Pandemic, Here’s 8 Things to Know For Your Next Library Visit

I was settling into the chair at my dental appointment a few weeks ago when my hygienist asked about my job. I mentioned I was a librarian and her face instantly lit up. “My family loves the library!” she said with excitement. Then she paused. “”But you know, we haven’t been there in a year. I didn’t know if they were open, or if I could bring my kids in.” Then she started asking me questions. “Can the kids use the play area? Do we just grab our books and go? Or can we browse now? I guess I’m not really sure.”

We talked for a while and I was able to answer many of her questions, reassuring her that her library was open, and her family was welcome to visit. I also told her she wasn’t the only ones with these questions.

While the public libraries in Waukesha and Jefferson counties have been open in some capacity since last summer 2020, changes in policies as the pandemic progressed- from quarantining items to browsing hours- have left some people uncertain about what to expect at the library.

If you’ve had similar questions or haven’t been to your local library in a while, here are 8 things to know:

  1. They’re open! Let’s start with the best news: of the 24 public libraries in Waukesha and Jefferson counties in the Bridges Library System, all library buildings are open to the public.
  2. They’re back to normal hours. Many libraries are back to their regular hours, though I recommend checking the library’s website or social media pages to make sure of the hours before you stop by.
  3. Mask use is encouraged. While masks are no longer required at any libraries, some still encourage them.
  4. It’s easy to get a library card. If you don’t have a library card, or don’t know whether yours has expired, stop by the front desk when you enter and ask. Library staff will be happy to look up your account or answer any questions you may have.
  5. Take your time in the library. Here’s more good news: you don’t have to rush in and out of the library- you can linger over the bookshelves and take your time finding everything you need.
  6. You can use the computers! Computers are available at all libraries and for many, WiFi has been extended outside the building.
  7. Hybrid programs are here. If you’re eager to attend programs, virtual programs are continuing online and some libraries have even begun in-person programming, mostly in outside spaces.
  8. Curbside pickup is still available. Most libraries are still offering curbside pickup services, which proved popular during the pandemic. Some require a reservation time, so give your library a call if you need to use curbside pickup.

You can find more specific details about programs and services for your library on their website or social media page…or just give them a call!

There is so much waiting for you at the library: shelves packed with books, movies, and more; entertaining and informative programs; and helpful staff who are happy to find you the information you need.

One of our favorite sayings in the library world is “Libraries Are For Everyone.” No matter your age, gender, race, education, income level, or whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, you are welcome at the library.

This has been true throughout the pandemic, despite the changes, and continues to be true as we start navigating more “normal” waters. Welcome back. We’re so glad you’re here.

Written by Jill Fuller. A version of this article appeared in several local newspapers in June 2021. We are sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.