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What Libraries (and Bookstores) Will Look Like When They Reopen

Counting the days until you can browse the book aisles again? Here's all the information you need.

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books library book store after coronavirus post quarantineJulien McRoberts/Getty Images

Are you a book-lover dying to go back to your weekly book club? Have you been patiently waiting for the day you can browse the isles at a library again? You might be getting your wish sooner than you think. As cities begin to reopen, bookstores and libraries have also started to plan how they can serve customers again. However, this does not mean everything will go back to normal right away. For all you anxious book-lovers, here are what libraries and bookstores may look like when they reopen. Make sure you also check out the way your favorite restaurants might change after they reopen.

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A book seller works inside the bookshop 'Trebisonda'. During...Nicolò Campo/Getty Images

You’ll have to follow health and safety guidelines

To protect yourself from getting sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover (or mask) when you’re in public. Libraries and bookstores will also comply with this guideline when they reopen. Christian Antonoff, content writer at who works part-time at a bookstore, said they have to remind customers to wear masks and to use hand sanitizer in the store.

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The layout of the stores will change

Kyle Hall, the manager and co-owner of Interabang Books in Dallas, told the New York Times that in order to reopen, they had to change the layout of the store. The staff reorganized the layout of their 2,000-square-foot space and put markers on the floor to signal how far apart customers should stand.

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Thoughtful lawyer holding book while leaning on shelf in libraryMaskot/Getty Images

It might be a while until community events can happen again

Are you an avid book club goer? You might have to hold your breath just a while longer. Kelly Roberts, who holds a book club with Book Blop in San Francisco, said that until June 30, their local library is closed for events. “They don’t have an exact date yet, but when I asked for an estimate they told me around three months until they can start holding book club events again,” Roberts said. Make sure you also check out the things you won’t see in Costco anymore.

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Book group meeting at a bookstoregeorgeclerk/Getty Images

Events will happen with fewer people

When their book club does return, they will need to wear masks and no more than five people will be allowed for book club meetings, according to Roberts. This means that if you were part of a larger book club, you might have to divide it up or find alternative options.

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Institutions Close To Avoid Spread of VirusBoston Globe/Getty Images

Not all library locations will reopen at once

If your city has a big library network, chances are only a select few branches will reopen at first. Nick Buron, the chief librarian at Queens Public Library which has 66 locations, only six to eight of them will open for limited service at first. “By starting slow, we’re going to be able to get it right and will learn things about how to open up even more,” Buron told TimeOut. “We all acknowledge the smartest way to start our services is to keep everyone safe.” Just like bookstores and libraries, airports will also be transformed after the pandemic—here’s how.

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It's a stack of knowledgePeopleImages/Getty Images

Grab-and-go services will be available

Libraries will start relying on a grab-on-go system to make the process safer. Instead of browsing for the books you want, you’ll be able to reserve them online or call your closest open branch ahead of time and go pick it up yourself, according to Buron. When you arrive at the branch, your books will be set out on a shelf, ready to go with your name on them so all you’ll have to do when you arrive is pick them up.

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Salesman at the checkout in a bookstoreRostislav_Sedlacek/Getty Images

There will be self check-out machines

If you see a self check-out desk in your local library, don’t be surprised. The reopening branches of Queen’s Public Library will have self-checkout machines you can use to scan your library card and reserved books. There will also be 24/7 automatic book return kiosks, to make the book return process as easy as possible. Check out what you won’t see in hotels anymore.

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He takes care of all the numbersCecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images

New online resources are here to stay

While the libraries were closed, they implemented many online resources to make sure people still had access. Now, it looks like those online resources are here to stay. “Our motto is ‘The library is for everyone. Everyone is welcome,'” Buron told TimeOut. “We had about one and a half million people attend our programs last year—but we know there are people who can’t make them. The virtual environment we’ve been able to build up is not something we want to lose because so many more people can take advantage of our offerings.” Next, check out the way gyms will forever change after the lockdown.