Library opens after closing its doors due to mask rule controversy


Nia Cocroft

A car drives through the St. Charles Public Library’s drive-up window, which remains open.

Nia Cocroft, Staff Writer

The St. Charles Public Library was temporarily closed until further notice due to a ‘heightened threat to health and safety,” according to the library’s website.
The news came after an organized group of people visited the library premises on Tuesday, January 18, and violated its mask policy. According to ABC7, the group consisted of 30 to 40 individuals, including children.
The library’s mask policy falls in line with the statewide mask mandate issued by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, which states that all individuals ages 2 and older able to medically tolerate wearing a face covering are required to do so when in an indoor public setting.
The library’s website states that it “has made reasonable accommodations in order to serve patrons who cannot wear face masks,” including contactless drive-through window service and 24/7 access to their online catalog.
On January 18, a potential altercation occurred between library patrons on Thursday, January 20, according to the Kane County Chronicle.
The incident involved a St. Charles mother who entered the public library without a mask. After a verbal exchange with another customer, she was banned from the library for 90 days for violating library policy during visits on Tuesday and Thursday, according to the Chronicle.
President of the library’s Board of Trustees, Robert Gephart, addressed these events during a Special Board Meeting on January 22. “Afterwards, the library started receiving phone calls threatening the health and safety of our staff and patrons,” said Gephart. “At that time, with the cooperation of the St. Charles Police Department, it was determined that it was in the best interest of public safety to close the library.”
According to Gephart, the library will continue to work with the police department in determining the proper steps to safely reopen in-person services. However, customers are encouraged to continue utilizing library services through their drive-up window and virtual services.
East senior Luke Hull, a frequent library visitor, shared his disappointment regarding the library’s closing. “I am a little disappointed, as it was a place I went often, but I am glad they are working on keeping it safe for everyone before they make a plan to reopen.”
Hull previously visited the library multiple days a week to study, which he says provided him with a quiet work environment with little distractions.
While the public library was closed, Hull has been visiting coffee shops to complete his work instead, but says he has had more of a difficult time doing so.
Hull, like many East students, is eager to see the public library reopen. Until then, the library’s online catalog and drive-up service remain available.

UPDATE: The library is now open for its regular business hours.

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