MISSOULA — In just a few short days, people will finally be allowed inside the new Missoula Public Library, which has remained closed because of the pandemic.
The new library has been operating since late last summer, but with the public outside. That changes Monday. Yet Library Director Honore Bray says it's taking a "huge transition" by staff to open.
“You know everything is totally different. We have all the collection that people had on hold moved downstairs so that staff could grab this stuff and run out the build and computers set up everywhere and we had to move all those and start getting ready for people to come in the building so."
And what a building it is. With the interior finished, you'll finally see the stunning design and the specialty areas, from the children's section, to sprectrUM Discovery Area to the demonstration kitchen on the third floor, and the rooftop patio where hardworking library staff has been able to take a "mask break" while having lunch now that the weather's improving.
One thing you'll notice right away about the new library is the abundance of new technology, including these help kiosks, which are stationed throughout the building. You can come here to browse the catalog, get a library card, DVD bank reservation, find out hours and locations, what's going on at the library today and the "help" button. Then the staff will be alerted by their cell phones and they'll come and find you give you the assistance you've asked for.
But the library is easing into re-opening, with a schedule to keep patrons safe and comfortable.
“Monday, Wednesday, Friday for at-risk people from nine in the morning till noon and then curb service in the afternoon. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for everybody else, same precautions," Bray explains.
“We will ask everyone to wear masks when they come to the library and make sure they sanitize their hands as much as they can," Bray continued. "And there won’t be a lot of places to sit and linger because we're not trying to be a meeting place where people can have coffee together. This is more about getting what you want and getting out.”
Patrons will be limited to an hour in the building to keep the flow of people moving. “If you come in at 9 o'clock, you'll get a certain color wristband, and then at 10 o'clock, somebody, the rest will get a different wristband so that we can keep people moving in and out," Bray explained.
Bray says that means those comfy chairs and computer access will have to wait.
“Just limited furniture to sit and if people want to use a computer they can check out a Chromebook and take it home, but we will not be circulating laptops right away within the building for use because we don't want people to linger.”