The Wellesley Free Library reopens—a first look

We’ve missed the  Wellesley Free Library terribly since it closed in March due to COVID-19 concerns, so you can bet we rushed right in to get a first look at the recently re-opened main branch. No matter how many rules we had to follow (and there are a lot of rules) it didn’t matter. We just wanted to drift through one of our old haunts and remember better days.

We managed our expectations and concentrated on molding our behavior to conform to present realities: no congregating, no computers, no copiers, no excessive chit-chat with the staff, no sitting, no bathrooms, no water fountain access. In addition, the library is not at this time taking book donations. But there are books to check out. Lots and lots of books and other materials, waiting to be checked out.

As many as 25 patrons at a time for a maximum stay of 30 minutes currently are allowed in for what Assistant Director Elise MacLennan said is a “soft opening” phase. Nobody timed me while I wandered about. The 30 minutes limit has been put in place for times when there is a line of patrons waiting to get in.

Here are a few pics:

Wellesley Free Library
Assistant Director Elise MacLennan reminds me that the library is closed for cleaning from 2-3pm on all weekdays. (Library hours listed below.)


Wellesley Free Library
These are the guys who are keeping the library sanitized. Mike Groh (left) and José Perez.


Wellesley Free Library
The library staff (that’s librarian Kristen Taft, pictured) has missed patrons, and has worked hard to develop protocols to keep everyone safe. Please limit chat with library staff (sort of a throwback to the days when libraries were a place of “Shhhhhh”). Masks must be worn and social distancing of 6-feet is a must. The library has received PPE such as gloves from the Wellesley Fire Department. Movable plexiglass shields have been placed on surfaces between library staff and patrons. Hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the library.


Wellesley Free Library
Wellesley Free Library periodicals room.


Wellesley Free Library
Wellesley Free Library, second floor. This internet-access spot has always been one of the busier areas in the library. For those who rely on public libraries for WiFi access, the building closures have been a difficult period.


Wellesley Free Library
Look beyond the bubblers if you’re thirsty for knowledge.


Wellesley Free Library
This is my spot, the section that overlooks the library parking lot and Hunnewell School. So many Swellesley posts have been written from those carrels. Wait a minute. Maybe the library staff closed off the area because they’re finally making space for my statue. Yeah, that’s definitely it.


Wellesley Free Library
Areas of the library look like giant toddlers have been through, overturning whatever was in their paths.


Wellesley Free Library
The library has put in place a Holds Express process by which patrons can enter the library via the Simons Park entrance (where the field is) and quickly pick up their items. Bring your library card and check out your books at the self check-out area. There’s no in-person fine paying for now.


Wellesley Free Library
The Wakelin Room has been set up as the Holds Express area for now. The library continues to offer appointment-based curbside pickup as well, where the books are checked out before you arrive.

Main Library hours:

Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm (9-10am is limited to seniors and high-risk patrons)

Friday 9am-6pm, (9-10am for seniors and high-risk patrons)

Saturday, 10am-3pm

IMPORTANT: The children’s room is scheduled to open at 10am each day the library is open.

IMPORTANT: The library will be closed from 2-3pm for cleaning on all weekdays.

The Hills and Fells branches are not yet open.


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