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Chicago Public Libraries Reopening Within Weeks, City Says

The city is asking library staff to return to work Wednesday so they can prepare to eventually open again.

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CHICAGO — City libraries will reopen in coming weeks, though there’s not yet a set opening date.

All libraries have been closed since March 21, when Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay at home order went into place to curb the spread of coronavirus. But the city says they’ll soon reopen — and it’s asking staff to come back to work so they can start prepping for that.

“In order to prepare for the eventual transition, Chicago Public Library has asked staff to return to work on May 20 to safely begin the extensive work necessary for services to ultimately resume,” a spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said in a statement. “Absolutely no date has been set to open libraries to the public, and any re-opening decision would be consistent with public health guidance and dependent on where our data is at that time.”

In a letter to all library staff, Andrea Telli, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, said the department is preparing for an early June opening. Employees were told to expect face masks requirements, capacity limits and additional security to require patrons to wear face coverings.

Libraries in other cities have explored curbside book pickup, but the city did not share any plans to offer that service.

Officials said librarians and other staffers will be provided masks and other personal protective equipment as they move things around to make the libraries more friendly to social distancing.

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