Libraries see summer return of patrons after in-person reopenings

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published August 10, 2021


OAKLAND COUNTY — After more than a year, local libraries have begun to allow patrons to visit the buildings once again.

Beginning in June and continuing through July, libraries in Ferndale, Berkley and Huntington Woods started allowing people to visit in person for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic was discovered in Michigan last year.

The Ferndale Area District Library opened to residents July 8. Its hours stand at 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. These are the same hours the library had before the pandemic.

After opening for a month, Marketing Coordinator Jeff Milo said everything so far has gone well.

“We’ve had a pretty decent amount of patrons visiting the library and everything, honestly, feels like it’s back to normal,” he said.

At the beginning of June, the Berkley Public Library opened its doors to the public once again. On Aug. 2, the library expanded its hours to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It will remain closed on Sundays.

Library Director Matt Church said it’s been wonderful to see the library’s patrons in person again after so long.

“People seem really happy to come in and browse the collections themselves and use the computers or have a space to study,” he said. “It’s just been a really great return.”

The Huntington Woods Library, which also serves residents of Pleasant Ridge, opened June 14. Currently, the building hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays. The library has been closed throughout the summer on the weekends, but hours will be expanded in the fall. The hours then will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, closed on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

More than a month after opening, Library Director Anne Hage said people have been coming in and signing out books, though not at the rate the library was seeing before COVID.

“We’re not back to what we were, like the mass of kids coming in, but people are revisiting,” she said.

Hage felt people still are warming up to the idea of coming in, as people are calling in to request items to “grab and go” at the door.

“The circulation is higher now with people coming in because there’s a lot more browsing,” Hage said. “Before they were just putting things on hold and picking them up. Now they can browse the shelves and grab things that they wouldn’t have thought of reading.”

Both Church and Milo also feel the return of customers to the libraries has been one of caution. Church said they’ve had a good flow of people coming through Berkley, but not at the numbers they had in 2020 pre-pandemic.

“Part of that is just word of mouth, people finding out that we’re open again,” Church said. “Some people still prefer curbside. We’re still offering that, and then we continue to increase our hours. We bumped up our hours once and then we’re gonna bump them up again (Aug. 2), and then we’ll get back to full hours after Labor Day.”

Milo stated that Ferndale has seen encouraging numbers since reopening, noting their regulars have returned, but that it hasn’t been packed inside the building.

“I think that you’re seeing (cautious) visitation to any institution lately,” he said. “We aren’t necessarily — before COVID — a busy place during the summer because most people are on vacation, and with the world reopening right now, I think that everyone had a lot on their to-do list. So we’re very happy to see people come back to the library.”