More time to browse books: Berkeley Public Library opens more branches

Almost all branches of the Berkeley Library will be open for indoor browsing soon — although hours are reduced below those offered before the pandemic. The one branch that remains closed for in-person entry is the Tool Lending Library.

The Tarea Hall Pittman/South Branch will open for indoor service on Tuesday, June 22, according to Tess Mayer, the director of library services. (It was going to open on Monday, June 21, but the city of Berkeley will be observing Juneteenth, the new federal holiday). The Claremont Branch will open for indoor browsing on June 28. Both of those branches will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 pm., the same hours that Central, North and West are open.

Face masks are required.

Outdoor pickup and services will continue at Tarea Hall Pittman/South and Claremont branches during the hours the buildings are open. Outdoor pickup will resume at the North Branch on June 28, said Mayer. She said there are plans to resume outdoor pick-up at West, too, although details are still being worked out.

The Tool Lending Library is open only for outdoor pickup. Its hours are 10 a..m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

The branches have been busy since they reopened

After being closed for 15 months, the North Branch opened for indoor business on May 28, bringing joy to many. There was a line outside the door waiting to get in. Since then, West and Central have reopened.

“North has been busy — at capacity or over, West has hovered around capacity,” said Mayer. “Central has seen a steady flow, but not too many outdoor lines.”

When Central reopened on June 15, library staff expressed appreciation of the milestone on Facebook. “What an amazing feeling it is for us to have patrons back inside on the 1st floor of Central!” a staff member wrote. “Pick up your holds and self-check them out. Browse the Lucky Day collection, New Children’s Books, New Adult Fiction Titles, Non-Fiction, the Teen collection and DVDs. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask staff. Check out a chromebook and wifi hotspot and sit al fresca at our colorful tables and chairs.  We’ve seen you at Outdoor Pickup since last Spring but NOTHING is the same as having you inside our libraries again.” The hashtag was #weloveourpatrons.

The feeling is mutual. One patron wrote on social media, according to the library:

“I walked inside the North Branch of the @berkeleypubliclibrary — the first time in 18 months — and cried in the Holds section. Unexpected and revealing.”

City of Berkeley buildings are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m

The city of Berkeley has reopened all of its buildings as of June 15, but with limited hours. Buildings are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday. Some services will be open for extended hours and patrons should check various department websites for details.