Louisville Free Public Library's South Central Regional Branch (interior)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Free Public libraries will once again be public starting Friday morning.

For the first time since COVID-19 broke out a year ago, the library is allowing patrons inside to browse the aisles.

“A couple of months ago, we started allowing people to come in and use computers by appointment only, but that's really been the only in-person service we've been able to do,” Library Director Lee Burchfield said.

Burchfield said he is excited to reopen for business.

“It's a great relief to me,” he said. “It really has been very difficult for us over the last few months, because we know how desperately people need access.”

Masking, social distancing and sanitizing rules will be in place.

The meeting rooms will remain closed for now, and there is no in-person programming yet. Patrons are also being asked to limit their visits to 90 minutes.

“Because we're restricted to 60% of the building's capacity, we want to make sure everybody has a chance,” Burchfield said.

No matter the rules, library fans said they're ready to check it out.

“Honestly, I don't need any more books," said Deja Jackson, president of Fans of the Louisville Free Public Library. "But I probably will just go in just to walk in and touch some other books. I’m so excited."

Jackson said it is another sign of a slow return to normalcy.

“I think that's a really huge step and a sign of progress," Jackson said.

The library will continue curbside service, and online options will remain, but Burchfield said he expects brisk in-person business.

“I think people are ready to get back out to the library as well as to other places that they haven't been able to go for the last year,” he said.

All branches will be open except for Middletown, which is moving to a new location.

For now, the branches will operate on shortened hours. The library will post the hours for all branches on its website.

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