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After more than a year closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco’s Main Library will reopen on May 3, city officials announced Monday.

Officials said the first floor of the library will reopen to the public and patrons will once again be permitted to browse through library books, music and movies through the library’s “Browse and Bounce” service.

The public will also be able to use the library’s computers in 50-minute session increments, make photocopies, return borrowed materials, use the self-checkout machines, get assistance with library cards and make requests for other materials on upper floors.

Additionally, the San Francisco History Center on the sixth floor will reopen to visitors by appointment.

Hundreds of library staff have been working as city disaster service workers in various roles since March of last year to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some have put in time at food pantries, testing sites, community hubs for students, shelter-in-place hotels and some continue to work as Covid-19 contact tracers.

Mayor London Breed said in a statement:

“I want to thank all of the Library staff, along with all the other City workers, who have been serving San Francisco’s COVID response for more than a year now.”

She added:

“I know that people have really been missing the library, and though we’ve adapted to provide more to-go options and online resources, there’s nothing quite like getting to browse the shelves and pick out your next book.”

In a statement, Department of Public Director Dr. Grant Colfax also thanked library staff for contributing to The City’s Covid-19 emergency response:

“SFPL has been a tremendous partner in the City’s Covid-19 response. From contact tracing to community outreach to monitoring test sites and hotels, library staff have made important contributions throughout the pandemic and we are grateful for their service.”

The Main Library’s will be open from 10:00 a.m to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. Patrons can enter on the Grove Street entrance.

Officials also announced that the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai branch will open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on May 17, and the Mission Bay branch will reopen on May 18 Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Officials said a number of safety measures will be implemented, including requiring patrons over the age of 2 to wear masks or face coverings. Social distancing reminders will be posted throughout the library.

Hand sanitizers will be available at the entrance and service areas, and computers will be spaced out so patrons can be appropriately distanced from each other. Sanitizing wipes will be made available to wipe down computer keyboards and sneeze guards are installed at service desks.

City Librarian Michael Lambert said in a statement:

“We’ve missed each and every one of our library patrons, just as much as they’ve missed us and we are so proud to start welcoming them back inside.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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