St. Charles Public Library temporarily closes in-person services after threats over mask policy
“We’re masked, follow the rules and it’s those who don’t who cause something like this,” said library boss Ute.
Western suburbs library officials said they stopped letting people into the newly refurbished facility after an incident earlier this week.
Library manager Edith Craig said police were called after a group of around 35 to 40 adults and children stormed inside the building and refused to wear masks.
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After the incident, threats against library staff members regarding the library’s mask policy began.
“Unfortunately the incident kind of escalated from that day and as I said before the voicemails and emails started and the library felt that at that point , we were going to take a break,” Craig said.
The Saint-Charles library follows Illinois Mask Mandate, which was reinstated by Governor JB Pritzker in response to a surge of COVID-19.
It requires anyone over the age of 2 to wear a face covering in indoor public places, regardless of their COVID vaccination status.
“I think it’s really sad that people are resorting to threats of violence,” said St. Charles resident Sam Farley. “I understand that everyone is very frustrated after two years of the pandemic.”
It’s an issue that once again divides the western suburbs community between public health measures and individual liberties.
Nearly 200 people logged in to a special virtual public meeting on Saturday evening, submitting comments on the library’s mandate. Some also expressed strong support for the librarians’ decision to enforce the governor’s statewide indoor mask mandate.
Although the library is closed, its taxpayer-funded services are still available online, and books can still be borrowed and returned through the drive-thru window.
In an effort to ensure the safety of library staff of around 100 employees, as well as patrons, the library is offering its virtual services
“We strive to ensure that we are in touch with the needs of our community and the services they request,” said Pam Salomone, communications and marketing manager at St. Charles Public Library.
“It’s not very practical, but if it has to be, it has to be,” said library boss Robert Cunico, who hasn’t quite prepared yet.
The library board has voted to keep the building closed to the public, for now, while it works with the St. Charles Police Department to develop a plan to enforce the mask mandate and ensure the safety of customers and staff.
There is no date yet when they will resume in-person services.
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