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Regional Interests

Multnomah County starts reopening libraries closed because of the pandemic

Face masks and plastic shields remained in place as the Gresham Library reopened recently.
Face masks and plastic shields remained in place as the Gresham Library reopened recently.

Beginning Tuesday, Multnomah County will start to reopen the libraries it closed because of the pandemic.

Over the coming months it will reopen 11 libraries, once again allowing patrons to browse, pick-up holds without an appointment, use computers, and even print documents and get help from staff.

There will be no time limits and people will be able to gather in libraries, like before the pandemic.

But spokesman Shawn Cunningham said COVID-19 required librarians to fundamentally rethink their work.

“There will be changes,” he said. “We’re really in the process of understanding what we can take away from the COVID experience, including enhanced virtual services and online programming, and we’ll combine that in the future with what we think of as more traditional library services.”

The library is still recommending face masks, and some services, like in-person programs, youth story times and public meeting room use, will begin later and expand over time.

The county did keep eight libraries open during the pandemic, but outside only — using online book reservations and curbside collection.

“I’m proud of the new and innovative ways the library served this community during the pandemic, but there’s nothing we have looked forward to more than opening those doors to serve people in-person at every library,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke.

“I am grateful to our community for its support of the library through this historic and challenging time and I am eager to embrace our next chapter together.”

Reopening schedule:

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