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The two library branches in Gilbert this week will begin offering more amenities previously off-limits to patrons due to the pandemic.

Maricopa County Library District, which closed its 18 facilities in March 2020 due to COVID-19, has been moving toward reopening in phases with the latest stage kicking off this Monday.

The Gilbert facilities include the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road, and Perry Library, 1965 E. Queen Creek Road, on the Perry High School campus.

 “We are bringing back in-library computers, sitting areas, and study rooms on Monday,” said Samantha Mears, district spokeswoman. 

“Also on June 7, some of our libraries will begin offering small-scale events for adults. These limited events are registration-only and are a way for us to begin to safely transition back into more and larger in-person events.”

The library district is encouraging people who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks while on site. All libraries have disposable masks available for patrons.

 Mears said the district was working with Maricopa County Public Health Department to guide its operational policies and to determine when it is safe to increase services, including more and larger-scale in-person events at the libraries.

In early phases of the plan, the library district launched new contactless and virtual services. Under the current phase, amenities available to the public included pop-in pickup and curbside pickup. 

Town Council recently approved renewing the contract with the district to operate Southeast Regional and Perry libraries for five years at a cost of $3.7 million. Gilbert receives $135,000 annually from the Chandler Unified School District for support of operations at the Perry Library.

Gilbert owns the land, building and contents at Southeast Regional Library and shares ownership of the contents at Perry Library with CUSD. The district owns the land and building.

In preparation for the June 1 contract renewal, town staff completed an updated analysis of the library operations that included determining how the two sites in Gilbert compared with peer municipalities.

Staff found although the two Gilbert facilities have the smallest footprint, they were visited more frequently at 3.65 library visits per Gilbert resident each year.

Additionally, the total operating expenses of the Town libraries was in the low-range of the researched municipality libraries at $13.72 spent per Gilbert resident, annually, according to staff.

Check-out of physical materials also was the highest for Gilbert libraries compared with peer libraries at 10.33  transactions per Gilbert resident, annually.