After months of being closed, the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Central Branch and Langford Heritage Branch reopened their doors Tuesday with partial service.

“This is kind of the equivalent of almost like a curbside pickup,” said Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library. “It’s a library-to-go.”

Visitors to the Central Branch are able to place books or other items on hold, pick them up and browse a small collection. Books and DVDs can also be returned to the outdoor and indoor drop boxes.

“I’m excited to bring back my library books and to check out some new ones,” said Leslie Rowlands, while waiting in line to browse the limited collection. “I really missed reading, I had to actually go out and buy a couple of books, so I’m glad to be back at the library.”

At the Langford Heritage Branch, guests can access the library vending machine and the automated return machine. Machines at sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay and the Emily Carr Branch are also open to accept book returns.

Once materials are returned, they are put into quarantine for 72 hours.

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All 12 branches of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) closed on March 16 to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

“This is the first step towards reinstating services,” Sawa said. “We’re not open in terms of the [full] building, but we are open to have a small browsing collection, a pop-up library, and for people to start getting their holds.”

Guests won’t be able to grab a book, sit down and read in the library like they’re used to. Instead, only a small section of the Central Branch is open, limited to one family or person at a time.

“They’re being very careful, only letting one person or family in at a time and I’m just as well happy to wait and take my turn,” said Margaret Chapman, who was visiting the library on Tuesday

This is only the first step of the library’s reopening plans for a gradual, safe return to offering services that haven’t been available for months due to the pandemic.

In July, three additional branches will open with similar services to what Central Branch now offers, with three more planned to reopen in August.

The Central Branch is open Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the first hour being specifically for seniors or those who are immuno-compromised. The library vending machine at the Langford Heritage Branch is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information can be found on the Greater Victoria Public Library website.

Jasmine Bala