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Detroit to reopen 10 public library branches

Exterior of Detroit Public Library, green grass, white building
Detroit Public Library
Detroit Public Library

After a two-year closure due to COVID-19, the Detroit Public Library system will soon reopen 10 branches.

Library officials are working to hire people to fill more than 100 new vacant positions before opening day.

Russ Bellant, a Detroit Public Library commissioner, said they struggled to reopen libraries earlier due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. He said the number of people who use public libraries means it was even more difficult than reopening schools after virtual learning.

In schools, he said, "usually the building's [occupants] are the staff, the students, and the parents, but they don't have random people walking through the school, but in libraries that’s not the case," Bellant said.

Detroit residents can check out books beginning July 5 with new COVID-19 protocols, including mask mandates, social distancing, and plastic shields that divide computer desks.

Staff workers will be using gloves while handling books to ensure their own safety.

“We had to be more aggressive in making sure our staff and the community who participated in library activities were not at risk of COVID,” Bellant said.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern and is currently working in his second summer. He is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.
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