Browsers welcomed back to Menlo Park Library and Belle Haven branch

by Jane White on July 8, 2021

Tuesday, June 6, marked the full reopening of the Menlo Park Library (800 Alma St.) along with the Belle Haven branch (413 Ivy Dr.) after a 16-month shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the libraries did offer an order and pick-up system for books, the July 6th opening makes indoor book browsing and in-person checkouts available once again. In addition, there are new hours:  both libraries will be closed on Sunday and Monday; open from noon to 8:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday; and noon to 6:00 pm on Friday and Saturday.

“So much has changed,” said Assistant Director of the Menlo Park Library Nick Szegda said,  “We’ve opened up a lot of space in the library so we’ve shifted from being a place for storing books to a place where people can come together and enjoy them.” 

Szegda also mentioned that the Menlo Park library will now have a commitment to being “a fulfillment model,” meaning “If we don’t have the book of your choice on a shelf here for you to grab, we’ll get it for you.”

In terms Covid-19 safety, both libraries will be complying with California state regulations. Sean Reinhart, the Director of the Library and Community Service for the City of Menlo Park said, “At the library, if someone is fully vaccinated, face-coverings are optional but for people who are unvaccinated, they are required. Additionally, on days when the library is designated as a cooling center everyone must wear a mask. While physical distance isn’t required, we encourage visitors to keep distance out of respect for each other.”

Reinhart expressed his excitement at returning to indoor operations. “The people are my favorite thing about being back. I like seeing people being able to walk through the door and use the library the way it was intended to be used. As an added plus, the library functions a lot more smoothly when people are able to grab their own books.”

“I don’t have any concerns for the library in the future. It has always changed  over time to meet the needs of the community and it will keep to do so.”

Photos by Robb Most (c) 2021; author Jane White is an editor of the M-A Chronicle

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