MILWAUKEE — Big changes came Monday at the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL). The start of a brand new week launched the final step in re-opening branches after two years of limited service because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are back. We are really excited to have people back in the library," said Eileen Force Cahill, the director of community relations & engagement for the Milwaukee Public Library System.
"I'm actually really excited," said college student, Ellie Mungo.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages, library officials say they had to cut back hours at all 13 branches. Now, they're back to operating at 52 hours a week instead of 48.
"I think it's better because I can stay here way longer, maybe read like a whole book instead of just a few chapters," said one young library goer, Paloma Parente Da Costa.
"As a student and somebody who has two jobs, being able to fit the hours in my schedule is hard but now hearing that, I'm actually kind of excited maybe I can come here a little bit more than I have been," said Mungo.
The changes extend beyond restoring hours at library branches. Community spaces and meeting rooms are also back open. They have been off limits to the public since the start of the pandemic.
"We have spaces that people can come in and have meetings or they can do private study, we have computers, we also have Chromebooks and hot-spots that people can check out," said Force Cahill.
These final changes come just in time as the Library begins to kick off its summer reading programs. Giving kids, teens, adults, and more, the perfect opportunity to learn this summer season.
MPL says this final step in restoring full service is a cause for celebration. There was a period of time during the pandemic when the Central Library and its branches were only offering curbside pickup.
Phased re-opening picked up speed in the summer of 2021 when people were invited back in to browse and select their own materials.
All 12 branch libraries will be open Mondays and Tuesdays from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday the hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, the hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Branches will be closed on Sundays.
You can continue to check out Chromebooks and hot-spots to take home for increased access to library programs and resources.
The library's online resources - which many people leaned on during the past two years - will continue to be available. You can get free access to music, movies, books, audio books and much more.