ROCHESTER, Minn. – Public library staff answering COVID-19 questions is ending and in-person service for library patrons is returning.
The Rochester Emergency Operations Center launched a COVID Information Hotline in March 202 and library employees, with the pandemic shutting down the Rochester Public Library, were enlisted to answer calls. Officials say library staff answers 7,767 COVID-related calls to the hotline.
But as the pandemic recedes, things are getting back to normal.
“In May, there was a 57% decrease in the number of calls compared with April, and that follows a large decline between February and March,” says Director of Emergency Management Ken Jones. “The highest number of calls came in during February, when 883 COVID-related calls were answered by library teammates. The majority of the calls at that time had to do with vaccines.”
With staff no longer needed for the hotline, the Rochester Public Library says it is closing its Walkup Windows and expanding Library Express hours to Monday-Thursday, 10 am-8 pm and Friday-Sunday, 10 am-6 pm, starting June 21.
“By shifting teammates from the Call Center and Walkup Windows, we are able to expand our building’s hours, something the community has been requesting” explains Library Director Audrey Betcher. “Ending these two COVID responses are part of the final steps to returning to a more ‘normal’ schedule.”