Eight Omaha libraries to open next week
September 16, 2020
Five Omaha Public Library (OPL) locations will begin reopening on Sept. 21 along with three more opening on the 28. All twelve libraries were closed on March 16th because of the coronavirus, and they have stayed closed since.
“We weren’t able to reopen because of budget concerns,” said Emily Getzschman, the marketing manager for OPL. But now that they’ve been given approval by Mayor Jean Stothert, the current plan is to have all the libraries in the system back open by November.
Even though the libraries are starting to get back to normal, things aren’t going to look the same. OPL is taking considerable efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus. Patrons will be required to wear masks, plexiglass dividers have been installed were people may be having encounters with staff, furniture and toys have been removed, and the capacity has been reduced.
Some previous features that involve gatherings of people, like study rooms, will also not be in use. “We’re taking some pretty big steps to try and keep everyone safe,” Getzschman said.
Curbside pickup service will be available to those who are immuno-compromised, or anyone who just doesn’t feel comfortable coming in the building.
Another big change is that in-person programming won’t be offered for the time being. This includes events such as story times and book discussions. However, there will be online versions of many programs available on the OPL website.
Quarantine has left lots of people feeling bored, especially kids. For many, the library was the perfect solution. According to Getzschman, in the immediate days following the closure, “The number of digital checkouts went crazy, people just started downloading books, and music, and magazines, and everything they could get their hands on. Even with the libraries themselves being closed, as much as people could check out books, they absolutely did,” Getzschman said.
OPL offers many different resources for all ages. According to Getzschman, “We have programming for teens. There’s not a lot of it right now because most of its online. But, if people are interested in joining others in something they have a common interest in, that’s all on our website.” If you want to know more information about programs or when specific branches are opening, that can all be found on the OPL website, omahalibrary.org.