June 28, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Nearly every Queens Public Library (QPL) branch across the borough will reopen in-person services beginning next month in a move to return to pre-pandemic service.
All library branches were temporarily closed last year to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. QPL has gradually phased in in-person services since last summer and reopened nearly 30 locations for browsing last month.
Fourteen branches which have remained closed to the public will reopen on July 12, QPL announced Friday.
The branch locations are Bay Terrace, Broad Channel, Corona, Far Rockaway, Kew Gardens Hills, Lefferts, McGoldrick, North Forest Park, North Hills, Poppenhusen, Rosedale, Seaside, South Hollis and Windsor Park.
Branches began reopening for to-go service last summer before reopening for masked and limited browsing.
“We have made many strides since COVID-19 forced the temporary closure of our buildings to the public 15 months ago, and as the public health situation shifted during that period, so did we, putting the safety of our customers and staff above all else,” said QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott.
QPL also announced Friday that many COVID-19 restrictions previously enforced at branches will be lifted on July 6 onward.
“In light of the progress we — as a community, as a city, as a state — have worked so hard to achieve, we can now finally lift many of our restrictions for staff and the public and introduce a model of service that brings us closer to pre-pandemic levels,” Walcott said.
Masks, for example, will be optional to staff and customers who have been fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask.
Capacity limits and social distancing requirements will be lifted as well and customers will be allowed unlimited browsing and extended 60-minute computer time limits.
QPL will continue to offer virtual programs and resources, but has already begun planning for indoor public programs and classes.
QPL is also offering extended hours at different branches. Details can be found online.
“I have been hearing from so many people that they cannot wait to return to our libraries and use them as they had in the past,” Walcott said. “They are yearning to return to places that welcome, inspire and provide vital opportunities to everyone, no matter their background or circumstances, and we look forward to continuing to be here for them.”
Some branches will remain closed due to construction, repair work or use as a city COVID-19 testing center or vaccine site. These include Flushing, Glendale, Ozone Park, Pomonok, Queens Village, Queensbridge Tech Lab, South Jamaica, Steinway and Woodhaven.