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St. Charles library reopens for in-person visits following threats against staff over its mask policy

The St. Charles Public Library reopened for in-person visits on Monday after being closed more than two weeks after threats were made against employees for following the state’s indoor mask requirements.

The library will have temporary hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for in-person, drive-up and virtual services, according to a post on its website. On evenings and weekends, the library is open with drive-up and virtual services.

The library is open until 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 8 p.m. Fridays. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

St. Charles library officials had said the library wouldn’t reopen until additional security services were in place. The new security services are unclear because library officials have not released details nor have they been available for comment.

While the library was closed, patrons were directed to use its drive-up window and virtual services.

The library follows Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask mandate, which requires those over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear face masks.

After a group of more than three dozen people on Jan. 18 protested the St. Charles Public Library’s decision to follow the statewide indoor mask mandate, employees received “hundreds of communications” some that included threatening comments, according to officials.

“Our number one goal is the safety of our patrons and our employees,” St. Charles Library Board President Robert Gephart said during a virtual board meeting on Jan. 22. The Kane County Chronicle filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the library and the St. Charles Police Department seeking details about the alleged threats.

Many of these communications and posts threatened a form of physical retaliation against the library, including statements that unmasked large groups would enter the library, according to a statement posted on the library’s website.