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Some Hillsborough County Libraries To Reopen At 25% Capacity

Front view from a book hall in a library. Through this image we can find things about education, study, school, science and much more.
Front view from a book hall in a library. Through this image we can find things about education, study, school, science and much more.

The decision to begin this phased reopening was made after consultation with health officials, emergency managers, library staff and county officials.

Hillsborough County is reopening nine public libraries this Monday with 25 percent capacity.

The libraries were closed in late March, along with many other nonessential businesses, because of coronavirus concerns.

They continued to offer some services, like curbside pickup, and the borrow-by-mail program.

Some libraries were used as early voting sites, but public access to the collections, computers and other areas were restricted.

“We just wanted to kind of ease into welcoming the public back in and make sure that we're providing the safest option for people to come in and use our facilities,” said Chely Cantrell, the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative’s brand innovation officer.

Cantrell said they didn't have a plan ready in May when Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed libraries to reopen at 25 percent capacity during phase one reopening in May.

"This is a process that has been in the works for a very long time. And it's been passed through public health officials. It's been through emergency management. It was definitely something that was methodically developed."

“It took time to develop that. So it wasn't necessarily something that could have been done right at the moment that the governor had given those orders.”

The library system originally scheduled the reopening for Nov. 12, but Tropical Storm Eta's uncertain path led to them changing it to Nov. 16.

These libraries will reopen:

  • Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico
  • C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library, 2607 E. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Tampa
  • Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa
  • Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave.,Tampa
  • Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd., Tampa
  • North Tampa Branch Library, 8916 N. Boulevard, Tampa
  • New Tampa Regional Library, 10001 Cross Creek Blvd., Tampa
  • SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin
  • Town ‘N Country Regional Public Library, 7606 Paula Drive, Suite 120, Tampa

Things to know before you go:

  • Visits will be limited to one hour.
  • Children under the age of 17 must be accompanied by a parent.
  • Face coverings and social distancing are required. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door.
  • Study rooms, meeting rooms, makerspace and recording studios will not be available for use at this time.
  • Library programs, including story times, will continue virtually.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.