The La Cañada Flintridge Library opened to in-person services this week for the first time after a 14-month hiatus due to the pandemic and resulting Los Angeles County Public Health restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
The library will open at 75% capacity, allowing for about 60 people to enter at a time, which is monitored by an electronic sensor at the entrance. Under the new L.A. County health guidelines and L.A. County Library mandates, the limited in-person services include the use of public computers, printing and browsing the collection. Masks are required, as is the 6-foot social distancing rule between.
“The residents have been waiting for this day for 14 months. Actually so has the staff,” said Library Manager Mark Totten. “The mood of the customers is simply happiness — happy that we are open, happy that they can browse again; plus, we get to see people again face-to-face. It’s great to see people return to the library, and we, staff, can catch up with them and their families.”
Totten and his staff worked to rearrange the library furniture to accommodate one person per table, which have also been upgraded with individual plugs so visitors can charge their laptops and phones to work and connect to the library’s Wi-Fi. The other lounge furniture and carpets were placed in storage. A cleaning crew is on-site to sanitize surfaces throughout the day and in between patron visits.
During the pandemic, the library was open to sidewalk service, which was deemed a success. LCF was consistently in the top 10 sites with the most checkouts among the county’s 87 branch libraries.
The library will not yet resume in-person programming, in accordance with the L.A. County library’s reopening plan.
“We’re taking it step by step,” Totten added. “Side-walk service was going OK, but we were definitely ready to open our doors again.”
Local resident Jerome Kim and his children, 8-year-old Ellis and 5-year-old Emmy, were among a handful of patrons on Tuesday. Their packed basket of books and movies indicated a successful browsing experience.
“We’re set for the week now!” Kim said, adding “we’re happy to be back,” as Emmy excitedly showed off the “Little Mermaid” movie in her arms.
The local library is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Tuesdays, when it’s open 1-8 p.m. Remote services will also remain an option for those who prefer to use them.