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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) -  Increased COVID activity has led the Rochester Public Library to hit the pause button on plans to re-open the facility for the first time since the pandemic began.

The library has been planning to offer a new service that would have permitted the public to get back inside. The “Library Express” plan would provide “a by-appointment option for browsing and borrowing materials and other limited activities.” But a recent rise in positive COVID cases has led to a decision to hold off on starting the program.

Earlier this month the library moved its Curbside Pickup service into the Civic Center Ramp, ensuring the continued service during the winter months. The library also continues to staff the city’s COVID-19 Information Hotline, which has experienced a higher call volume recently.

According to Library Director Audrey Betcher:

“We expect more demand on both the Call Center and our Curbside services if COVID-19 cases keep rising. Once our cases start to decline, and we’re back in the moderate to minimal risk levels, we will be ready to offer Library Express.”

The by-appointment Library Express service will allow visitors a chance to browse and borrow materials, access library computers, ask questions, apply for a library card, and use WiFi. Betcher says customers will be able to book up to 45-minutes to complete their activities, with staff using 15 minutes each hour for additional cleaning.

In the meantime, library customers can still access books and materials through Curbside Pickup, the Digital Library, and other options. Visit rplmn.org or call 507-328-2300 to place holds, access digital resources, or utilize other ways to access materials and information.

Yes, it was record snowfall.