Illinois libraries consider closing doors amid coronavirus outbreak

(The Center Square) — Libraries around Illinois are grappling with the question of whether to close their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools will be closed until the end of the month, and libraries are usually a haven for students out on break.

Diane Foote, executive director of the Illinois Library Association, said the organization has advised library directors to close their buildings to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“[The Illinois Library Association] is a private organization. We don’t have any compliance or enforcement role, but we issue guidance and education for libraries and library workers,” Foote said.

Foote said about 40 percent of libraries in northern Illinois have closed, but far fewer in the rest of the state.

Just in the past few days, libraries in Peoria, Normal and Carbondale have closed.

Foote said the organization was in uncharted territory.

“We are trying to walk a very fine line between public service, which is our mission, and our concern for public safety,” said Foote. “Opinions and questions about this issue are developing by the minute.”

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