The West Liberty Public Library is opening up it’s doors to the public beginning Monday, May 3. No longer will patrons need to make appointments to browse its collection and use the facilities' in-house services.
“We are excited to take this next step,” said director Allie Paarsmith. “Though we will continue to keep precautions in place, the public is allowed to visit whenever they want during our regular hours.”
Precautions include the wearing of masks by patrons and staff, social distancing measures when possible and the dispersal of groups of 10 or more when needed.
That being said, the top floor, which has the library’s entire collection of books, videos and video games for all ages, will be open for browsing any time during regular hours.
This was made possible when the library board voted in favor of moving to Service Level Four of the library’s pandemic plan on Wednesday, April 21. For months, the library has only allowed patrons to visit via appointment.
The West Liberty Public Library originally closed to the public on March 16, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it has slowly reintroduced services to the community over the past year.
One of those services is Library Pick Up, which allows patrons to peruse the library’s catalog online, then contact the library with an order. Within 24 hours, the order is available in a paper bag in the entryway.
“Library Pick Up has worked out great for many of our patrons, so it’s something I foresee us doing well into the future,” said Paarsmith. “No matter what, we want our community members to feel safe.”
The Covid-19 pandemic caused many libraries and businesses in West Liberty, the state and the country, to close their doors in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.
The library will continue to enforce safety precautions. This means special rooms, such as the video game room and Betty Aker’s Creative Space, will remain closed for the time being. The meeting room will only be used for library and city purposes.
The main focus is for the library to open up the first floor for browsing, as well as printing, faxing and computer usage. Patrons can visit anytime Mon-Thurs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fri and Sat from 2-5 p.m. The library is closed on Sunday.
But reopening the top floor isn’t the only exciting news from the West Liberty Public Library. Over the course of the pandemic, the staff has taken the opportunity to make improvements to the building.
“We now have more shelves,” says Director Paarsmith, “both upstairs and downstairs. In fact, we’re in the middle of redoing the youth department downstairs. It’s going to look completely different.”
The library has decided to refurbish its lower level. A fresh, new coat of paint has helped open up the area. Meanwhile new shelves and accessories are either on the way or have already been installed.
There is no timeline for opening up the lower level as of yet. Refurbishing it has been a major undertaking made possible by a generous donation from Marylin J. Irey, upon her passing back in 2017.
Reopening will also give the community a proper chance to meet Director Allie Paarsmith, who replaced Deb Lowman in December 2019.
Children will also get a chance to meet new Youth Services Librarian Lily Smith.
It’s an exciting time for the West Liberty Public Library, which is currently planning its 2021 Summer Reading Program for children and adults, on top of everything else.
The library also plans to have some events for adults in person.
In order to learn more about everything library related, local residents are asked to feel free to stop by, give the library a call at 319-627-2084 or visit wlpl.org for regular updates.
Plus, if local residents haven’t become a member, Paarsmith says now is the time.
It’s free to all community members within the West Liberty Community School District, including West Liberty, Nichols, Atalissa and rural areas.