After months of being closed or operated at a limited capacity due to COVID-19, the DeWitt Community Library Board voted unanimously last week to lift many restrictions put in place for patron and staff safety.

On Friday, librarian Kate Karkosh said it was great to see more people coming through the doors of the new $5.7 million building after months of being closed or at limited capacity due to both the pandemic and construction.

“It’s been going well,” said Karkosh, one of three staff sharing acting library director duties. “We’ve had a lot of families and community members in and they are so happy to be in the new building.”

Patrons now can visit the library without limits on the amount of time they can browse or use a computer. They also do not need to make a reservation to use a library-owned computer or reserve seating space to use a personal device.

Meeting rooms now are available to the public, and children under the age of 14 are no longer required to be supervised by a parent or guardian. 

Teen study rooms, family bathrooms and the nursing room also are open.

The following services were reinstituted: newspapers, toys/games in the children’s department, programming passes, test proctoring, materials donations (books, DVDs, CDs, magazines), and in-person programing. 

The number of patrons allowed inside the library may be limited at the library director’s discretion, and social distancing must be maintained between both patrons and library staff.

Staff will continue to operate equipment used for copying, printing and faxing. Payment for those services can be made by exact change, credit card or check only, Karkosh said.

The COVID-19 pandemic response plan was approved by the board in October. It was created in response to the challenges COVID presented to normal operations in the interest of protecting the safety of library users and staff. 

The board, which held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, and library staff are excited to welcome more people into the building after months of limited use.

Many community members have not yet visited the state-of-the-art, technologically advanced facility that is nearly triple the size of the old library, staff said.

“We look forward to seeing more and more patrons,” Karkosh said.

In other business:

• The extended search for a new library director yielded some new applicants. Three people will be interviewed this week. Two previous applicants interviewed earlier this spring also are still in the mix. The board hopes to have a new director on board by the end of July. 

• The summer reading program, Reading Colors Your World, kicked off on June 5.

• Take ‘N’ Make Tuesday kits are available for all ages through July 13. 

• Story Time in the Park will take place from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays this summer.

• Virtual Family Nights will feature entertainment from several professional performers from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays this summer. 

• A pool party is booked for July 18 at the DeWitt Aquatic Center.

• The library will open an hour earlier (at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.) on Friday, July 30, to accommodate RAGBRAI visitors to DeWitt. The library closes at 5 p.m. that day. It also will be closed Saturday, July 31, as cleanup takes place in town.