St. Louis County Library branches open by appointment only starting March 23; reservations open now

A+Hancock+student+receives+a+free+Playtime+Pad+tablet+from+the+St.+Louis+County+Library+in+spring+2020%2C+before+St.+Louis+County%27s+mask+mandate+went+into+effect+for+young+children.+

A Hancock student receives a free Playtime Pad tablet from the St. Louis County Library in spring 2020, before St. Louis County’s mask mandate went into effect for young children.

The St. Louis County Library will reopen all 20 of its branches in phases starting next week, with all branches open by 45-minute appointments only beginning Tuesday, March 23.

Appointments are available for browsing and computer use, and the number of patrons allowed in the library branches at one time will be limited. Properly worn masks, covering nose and mouth, will be required of anyone 5 years of age or older to enter the library, and “additional safety guidelines will be in place to keep patrons and employees safe,” the library said. Free masks will be given out for anyone who does not have one. 

You can start scheduling appointments at 9 a.m. today —  Tuesday, March 16 —  by visiting www.slcl.org/library-visits or calling 314-994-3300.

Library branches have been open for curbside only after an initial shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then a reopening in June, then closing again in July after a number of COVID-19 cases.

The curbside service has been popular, and the library said that it will still be available even as branches reopen. The contact-free service allows patrons to pick up library items and printouts at all 20 SLCL locations. Visit www.slcl.org/curbside for more information. Curbside hours are 1-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

While library buildings were closed, SLCL staff provided over 332,000 curbside services transactions for patrons to pick up library materials, printouts and curbside bundles.

Patrons wanting to use the computer can sign up for 45-minute slots at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon Monday through Saturday. Appointments start on the hour and end at the 45-minute mark to allow time for cleaning after each use, so appointments cannot be extended.  Each appointment includes access to one computer if needed and includes up to two adults plus children.

Drive-thru meals, emergency diapers and period products will still be available at select branches. Visit www.slcl.org/drive-thru-distribution for details. Drive-thru meals are currently being distributed in South County at the Cliff Cave and Weber Road branches, and so far, the library and Operation Food Search have distributed 1 million meals during the pandemic. Period products are available at the Weber Road Library.

Library Director and CEO Kristen Sorth said in a letter to library patrons sent out Tuesday, “All of us at St. Louis County Library hope you have been staying safe and healthy. We have been working hard to keep you connected to the Library during the pandemic in creative ways. We are looking forward to welcoming you back inside our library branches during a phased re-opening.”

Sorth said in a news release, “We are so happy to welcome patrons inside our library buildings. We have stayed connected in so many creative ways during the last year but seeing people inside the branches will be amazing.”

Many libraries across the country have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to reopen in March has been made in tandem by 12 St. Louis-area library districts across the region.