toronto library

Toronto libraries are preparing to reopen their doors for Stage 2

Public libraries are among the businesses and spaces that are allowed to reopen this week when Toronto finally enters Stage 2 of the province's gradual progression into an adapted form of normal.

The city's library system has its own phased plan for resuming operations, which started with the return of staff to some locations to prepare late last month, and the opening of drop boxes and commencement of a popular new curbside pickup service for books and other materials at the beginning of June.

Now that the provincial government has given branches the green light to open their doors as of this Wednesday, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) will begin offering some expanded service starting next week.

This will later be followed by certain locations opening with reduced hours to serve members of the public who require loans, internet access, study space, washrooms, computer and information services, and more.

While the province gradually reopens, the TPL board has been assessing its 100 libraries across the city to determine what spaces need to be renovated and which services amended to ensure things like proper physical distancing moving forward.

This has meant that when branches do finally return to full service, patrons can expect tweaks like new plexiglass screens at service desks, some rearranging, and signage to help keep patrons two metres apart and inform them of best health and safety practices.

As has been the case since drop boxes opened, all materials returned to the library will be quarantined for 72 hours before being reshelved, and sanitization measures will be stepped up.

Branch capacity will be reduced, while food and drink areas, as well as event spaces, will remain off limits for the foreseeable future. And, classes and other programming will stay online only for now.

With all of these changes still in progress, there is no firm date for when libraries will enter into later phases, but for now, the TPL has confirmed that 17 branches will be opening for computer, printer and photocopier use within the week, which will expand to more locations over the coming weeks.

Though the system has yet to reveal when residents will be able to access other types of services at its locations, it says in an update that as of this week, staff are "working to prepare branches for the limited reinstatement of in-branch services, with fuller access anticipated in the weeks to come," with more than 1,500 of them already back to work remotely or on the ground.

Hopefully for community members who rely on the library as not only a source of free books, but as a hub for access to information, interaction and more, dates for gradual branch reopenings will be announced sometime soon.

Lead photo by

Pedro Sanchez

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