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Winnipeggers will be allowed to browse for books at public libraries as of Monday.
Public library branches will allow patrons to explore their collections in addition to "limited" computer use, printing and photocopying.
However, the city warns that the libraries will look and feel different at this stage of reopening, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
That includes asking Winnipeggers to limit the time they spend browsing for books and other materials to loan, though no exact time limit has been set.
"We’re not putting (in) specific time limits. There are folks that love our libraries so much that they could spend hours there perusing books. We’re asking you to limit your library use a little bit just so everyone can get inside," said Jason Shaw, Winnipeg’s assistant chief of emergency management.
Shaw said that recommendation aims to meet new occupancy limits at all branches, which he warned could mean some people will wait to enter the facilities.
At this point, he said it’s difficult to predict the demand for library visits at any given time.
"People are still hesitant to get out in the public. We’re expecting individuals to use our libraries. We do not know at this point how busy they’re going to be. We’ll assess if we need to change procedures… then we’ll do so," said Shaw.
The city has removed some seating and play areas to encourage physical distancing. All returned items will be quarantined for at least four days.
Patrons must social distance from others, wear masks and could be turned away if they show symptoms of illness.
Library users have had to wait months for the reopening, which comes long after the province allowed libraries to end COVID-19 closures on May 4.
While Winnipeg’s public libraries had reopened for the pickup of reserved materials and book returns, Shaw said extra planning was needed to resume broader access.
"When we’re looking at 20 different (library) floor plans, training (our) staff, reorganizing the footprint of individual libraries to be able to make things safe… we just had to take our time," he said.
Customers will be able to book tutorial rooms and access the ideaMILL at the Millennium Library.
Other options, including the rental of meeting and program rooms, remain unavailable, while magazines will be available for check-out only. The library will provide digital access to newspapers, which won’t be available for browsing.
Millennium Library security screening, which included metal detectors and bag checks before the pandemic, will remain suspended.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
Updated on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 5:30 PM CDT: Adds comment from the city.
5:38 PM: Headline fixed.
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