Libraries across Wisconsin are making adjustments to their services in an attempt to increase social distance and slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Libraries are specifically exempt from an order by Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Health Services that prohibits mass gatherings of more than 50 people beginning Tuesday.
Milwaukee Library Closed
Milwaukee Public Library, including Central Library and all branch locations, will be closed Friday through Sunday, March 29, according to a statement. Central Library drive-up services will also be suspended while library staff assess contamination risk. All library programs, events and meeting room reservations have been canceled through Friday, May 1.
RELATED: Parents Left With Questions As Schools To Close Across Wisconsin
Any library materials that are already checked out will be automatically updated with a due date of May 1, and fines incurred during the closure period will be waived.
Early voting at the Zablocki branch library, which is scheduled for Monday 16 through Sunday, April 5, will go on as planned.
"This was an extremely difficult decision, as we know how many people rely on the library," said city librarian Paula Kiely. "The safety and well-being of patrons and staff is of the utmost importance and as we learn more during this quickly changing situation, we will reestablish the services and programs the community has come to expect and value."
Madison Public Library To Close Tuesday
Madison Public Library announced Monday the Alicia Ashman, Goodman South Madison, Hawthorne, Lakeview, Meadowridge, Monroe Street and Pinney library branches are closed for the day due to limited staffing. Central Library and Sequoya library remain open Monday.
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The library will close completely starting Tuesday. All events are canceled indefinitely.
La Crosse Library To Close Wednesday
Beginning Wednesday all three locations of the La Crosse Public Library will be closed through at least Tuesday, April 14.
The La Crosse Public Library does not charge fines for overdue materials, and that will continue throughout the closure. Patrons are encouraged to keep materials they already have checked out, and book drop boxes will be closed.
WiFi at all three locations will be available from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and accessible from outside the library facilities.
Library community engagement coordinator Barry McKnight said the decision to close was not made lightly, especially given how heavily the library is used by families with children and people experiencing homelessness.
"We have a responsibility through our services and through offering access, but we also have a responsibility for their safety," he said. "So kind of trying to balance those things, we made the decision to close the library for at least as long as the school district is closed."
Other Libraries With Closures Or Changes Include: