St. Charles Public Library temporarily closes in-person services after mask policy threatened

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ST. CHARLES, Illinois (WLS) — The St. Charles Public Library is now closed for in-person visits following backlash over the library’s mask policy.

“We wear masks; we follow the rules, and it’s people who don’t follow the rules that cause this,” said library patron Ute.

Officials at the Western Suburbs Library said they were no longer letting people into the newly renovated library following an incident earlier this week.

Librarian Edith Craig said police were called after about 35 to 40 adults and children stormed the building and refused to wear masks.

RELATED: Parents threaten to wear masks and bring guns to school: ‘Load up and get ready’

Following the incident, library staff began to be threatened over the library’s mask policy.

“Unfortunately, things escalated from that day, and as I said before, voicemails and emails started, and the library felt like we were going to take a break at this point,” Craig said.

The St. Charles Library is close behind Mask mandate in Illinois, which was restored by Governor JB Pritzker in response to the COVID-19 surge.

It requires anyone over the age of 2 to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces, regardless of COVID vaccination status.

“I think it’s really sad that people are resorting to threats of violence,” said St. Charles resident Sam Farley. “I know everyone is very upset after two years of this pandemic.”

This question once again divides the western suburbs community into public health measures and personal liberties.

Nearly 200 people logged into a special virtual public session Saturday night to submit comments about the library’s mission. Some also expressed strong support for librarians’ decision to enforce the governor’s statewide indoor mask order.

While the library is closed, its taxpayer-funded services are still available online and books can still be borrowed and returned through drive-thru windows.

To keep the library’s approximately 100 staff and patrons safe, the library is offering virtual services

“We work hard to make sure we stay connected to the needs of the community and the services they demand,” said Pam Salomone, communications and marketing manager for the St. Charles Public Library.

“It’s not very convenient, but if it has to be, it has to be,” said library patron Robert Kunico, who has not yet fully embraced it.

The library board voted to temporarily close the building to the public while they worked with the St. Charles Police Department on a plan to enforce mask-wearing regulations and ensure the safety of patrons and staff.

No date has been set for when they will resume in-person services.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. all rights reserved.

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