North Fair Oaks Library is one of the 13 city libraries managed by San Mateo County Libraries. (Photo courtesy of San Mateo County Libraries)

San Mateo County libraries reopened for in-person services on Thursday, after a year of providing only remote and curbside services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While curbside service and virtual events will continue, libraries are now providing in-person Express Service Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. then 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In-library services include computer and printing access, browsing and checking out items and Wi-Fi access. Study rooms and makerspaces are not yet available for in-library use.

At the Foster City Library, one of the 13 city branches managed by San Mateo County Libraries, the mood was jubilant, according to Senior Librarian Jen Robinson.

“We’ve all got silly smiles on our faces and sore cheeks from smiling all day,” Robinson said.
“The second we opened our doors, we were standing in a semi-circle clapping and the patrons started clapping, too,” Robinson said. “One gentleman came in, walked about two feet past the door and said, ‘I’m home!'”

There were tears of joy, children donning tie-dyed face masks and community members who simply savored the feeling of being back inside their library.

“Our first kid visitor was a two-year-old who came in and ran straight for the kids’ room,” Robinson said. “She remembered where it was after a year, which was very telling.”

Katie Woods, spokesperson for San Mateo County Libraries, said via email that it was a great day overall.

“It was really amazing to see just how many people showed up in the first hour of our Express Service. By midday, we were well into the hundreds, which just speaks to how much our communities missed and love their libraries,” Woods said.

Visitors must adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines such as wearing a face mask and physical distancing. Staff will monitor building capacity and seating and the libraries close during the day for surface cleaning.

People are encouraged to limit visits to 60 minutes.

Curbside services – including curbside pickup, printing and walk-up service – will continue to be available Mondays through Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Library programs such as story times, author talks and book clubs will continue online.

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