CHAMPAIGN — With fewer COVID-19 cases in the local community these days, the Champaign Public Library will expand its hours and services starting next week.
For now, the Urbana Free Library and Danville Public Library plan to maintain the pandemic-related restrictions they have in place.
Starting Monday, the Champaign library will add evening hours four days a week at both the main library and Douglass Branch facility, meeting rooms will be available on a limited basis and limited sitting at tables will again be allowed.
The library’s FriendShop Bookstore will also be open again two days a week.
Both the Champaign and Urbana libraries reopened their doors to the public Feb. 1 — with restrictions — after months of being closed due to the spread of COVID-19.
Among those restrictions for the Champaign library buildings was prohibiting seating at tables. But starting Monday, two people will be allowed to sit at each table.
Meeting and study rooms will reopen, though by reservation only and with a limited capacity, and computers will be available for two hours a day per person, according to an update on the library website.
What won’t change for now will be a requirement to wear masks to enter and be inside the library. And the Library Cafe will remain temporarily closed.
Library Director Donna Pittman said restrictions are being loosened because virus trends have been improving in the local community.
“Things are trending in the right direction, so we want to provide as much service as we possibly can while doing it safely,” she said.
At the Urbana Free Library, services and hours will remain as they are for now, according to Executive Director Celeste Choate.
Library officials are waiting a bit longer to see if COVID-19 transmission in the community remains low and if there will be an impact from spring-break activities and travel, she said.
The Urbana library will consider possible changes in mid-April, she said.
“We just thought it was prudent to wait a couple of weeks longer,” Choate said.
The Danville Public Library has eased up on a couple of restrictions since reopening.
Its larger first-floor meeting room is available for reservations again for groups of 15 or fewer with social distancing, and some seating in the library is now allowed, according to Executive Director Jennifer Hess.
Other safety restrictions in Danville will remain in place as the state is moving toward transitioning to a bridge phase in COVID-19 mitigation restrictions, Hess said.
“We’re kind of in a wait and see,” she said.