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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

No Sinks, Restrooms Keep Normal Public Library Closed For Now

Normal library
Normal Public Library has been closed since March 14, when much of the world shut down because of the coronavirus.

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. And it’s also the main reason why the Normal Public Library is still closed, even as other public spaces have reopened.

The library has been closed since March 14, when much of the world shut down because of the coronavirus. The library has not reopened largely because the restrooms and sinks on its main floor are out of commission, part of a $215,902 renovation project to add accessible, single-occupancy restrooms, said NPL Director Brian Chase.

The new restrooms are not yet complete, and the library does not have a definitive reopening date, Chase said. The “hope is to have the current renovations completed by end of September,” said Library Board President Jess Ray.

Renovations were scheduled to begin in March but did not actually start until May, Chase said. The delay was because of “challenges in scheduling contractors and supply chain issues,” he said.

“Initially the plan was to complete the project while we were open, knowing there was a possibility we may have to close for brief periods of time, if necessary, due to the water being shut off or other circumstances that could have negatively impacted patrons and staff,” Chase said. “Due to the fact that we had no restrooms or sinks for patrons on the main floor, we determined to stay closed until the project was complete.”

The library has stayed busy. The library’s curbside service resumed June 8. Circulation of digital content is up about 44% between March 1 and Aug. 31, compared with that same period in 2019.

Circulation of physical items, however, has declined 71% over that same period.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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