By Laural Samson 
BELLEVILLE – The Belleville Public Library  is accepting book returns starting Wednesday and is hoping to be open and lending out books again as soon as next week.
“It’ll most likely be early next week that you can start picking out books.” Trevor Pross, CEO of Belleville Library, said about reopening the front lobby of the library for the book pickup service.
“You can either call or go online and select items you want, and then we will arrange for a time for you to pick them up.”
The library has been closed for almost two and a half months for browsing and book returns due to the COVID-19  lockdown.
As for people looking to return their books starting this Wednesday, Pross said they had come up with a system to limit the amount of people in the building at the same time.
“We’re asking if your last name is A-G then to come Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the rest of the alphabet to come Tuesday and Thursday. There will be a line-up, a security guard and you’ll just drop off your items in the bins at the front area.”
Pross said they have also introduced a number of health and safety measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 with the reopening.
“We have reduced numbers of staff, everyone is wearing a mask and we have extra cleaning and disinfecting,” he said.
“We put everything into a quarantine for three days to make sure there’s nothing on any of the books.” Pross said, noting that while the minimum is three days, some may sit for longer.
And while this book quarantine is necessary to stop COVID-19 contact spreading, it does mean that library goers may have to wait a bit longer for books that have been put on hold and interlibrary loans.
“Nobody’s been able to get anything for two months, so it’ll probably be more waitlists and a bit longer for new books, but we are trying to get things up to speed as quickly as we can.”
As for when people will be able to order books from other libraries, Pross said that they are only accepting other libraries’ book returns at the moment.
“It may be another week or two before we can get more items in from other libraries.”
But even with Belleville Library beginning to get back up and running, Pross said that it will be a while before the library will be able to start hosting community programs again.
“I think it’ll be several months before we can do things like preschool story time or children’s gatherings,” he said.
“Maybe by the end of the year things will be back to normal, but it’s really hard to say.”
For now, Pross said that there are plenty of resources, such as movies and digital books, that people can access through Belleville Library’s website while they wait for other services to resume.