The Monroe County Public Library System began reopening to in-person visits on a staggered schedule starting the week of March 22, with Key West and Big Pine Key being first. Their schedule is Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s been really nice to have patrons back in the building,” said Key West Branch manager Michael Nelson. “One of the patrons said, ‘It’s great to be home again’ since it’s part of their daily routine.”
Marathon, Islamorada and Key Largo branches, working to fill staff vacancies that resulted from COVID-19 cutbacks, will have different schedules. For example, the Islamorada branch will reopen three days a week starting Tuesday, April 6; the schedule will be Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility will return to a full schedule upon filling vacancies.
Upper Keys resident Jennifer Pullar used to take daughters Chloe, 5, and Celeste, 3, to the Islamorada branch for Story Time every week before the pandemic, and she asked staffers often when the library was going to allow visits again.
“My kids have missed the library so much, they can’t wait for the reopening. We’re so excited!” she said.
Islamorada branch manager Walt Johnson said the staff has missed face-to-face interaction with the community. “We’re not the only ones excited — even the fairies are coming out,” he joked, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to their outdoors fairy house display that his staff created specifically for the reopening.
Library technician Susan McKee spearheaded the fairy-house project and is grateful for the help of local artists Angela and Pasta Pantaleo, Pam Gode and Michelle Nicole Lowe, as well as library volunteers Elizabeth and Sofia Jolin, Micah Gardner and John and Roxie of Bill’s Garage.
McKee said the whole family will enjoy seeing the displays and will be invited to take home a free fairy-house kit so they can either contribute to the library’s project or display at their home. The kits will be available as long as supplies last and the fairy houses will be on display until the summer months.
The Key Largo branch is scheduled to begin a whole-building recarpeting project to repair Hurricane Irma damage that should take about 30 days to complete. The branch will reopen three days a week at the completion of the project and will return to a full schedule upon filling vacancies.
The Marathon branch is in the midst of a major move into its new facility. The former branch facility will remain closed to the public but will host a “Goodbye Week” April 26-30, welcoming the public to say goodbye to the old facility and asks that patrons consider helping library staff move by checking out up to 50 items from the collection and returning them to the new building when it opens in June.
Curbside services will continue to be available six days a week at all branches, which will continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines for patrons’ safety. As restrictions continue to relax, the library system will add to the available services and spaces.
For more information, visit www.keyslibraries.org, call your local branch or follow your favorite branch on social media for updates. To arrange picking up a free fairy house kit, call the Islamorada branch at 305-664-4645.