Penn Yan Library reopens for public use

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

The Penn Yan Public Library reopened its doors to the public Aug. 31. Patrons are invited to put on a mask and stop by, stock up on new books and media, and see the changes to the library since it closed March 16. 

Penn Yan Public Library

While closed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the library underwent a planned upgrade of the HVAC system in the main level of the building, which was added on to the original 1905 Carnegie library structure in 1982. The new HVAC system is all-electric, high-efficiency, and should increase patron comfort while reducing energy bills. Furniture has been relocated throughout the building to facilitate social distancing, and patrons are asked to limit themselves to one hour per day inside the library. The Friends of Penn Yan Public Library purchased air purifiers for staff offices and patron areas like the circulation desk and youth area. The library received a grant from The Yates Community Foundation that was used to upgrade to touchless fixtures in the restrooms, and hand sanitizer stations can now be found throughout the building. The maximum capacity of the library is currently 25 people, including staff. The library’s Board of Trustees approved this change, along with other temporary service adjustments, including fine-free circulation, which began in mid-March and continues to this day. 

Entering the library now, patrons will notice that the reference area has been roped off to function as a temporary quarantine location for returned library materials. Following evolving guidelines from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency, returned materials are quarantined for ninety-six hours before being re-shelved or re-circulated. The library appreciates patrons’ patience with this and other new processes. Patrons will also notice the library’s meeting room, usually in high demand for library programs and community events, is now full of relocated furniture and is not available for public use. The library is still offering programs for all ages, some in-person and most virtual. A complete schedule of library programs can be found at 

Among other adaptations to the pandemic, the library now circulates three times as many WiFi hotspots. Empire Passes (for free entrance to New York State Parks) are also available, along with a comprehensive collection of books, audiobooks, movies, video games, magazines, and newspapers. Digital library materials (books, audiobooks, magazines, streaming video) are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by using the free Libby app. Usage of digital materials has increased greatly over the past six months, and Penn Yan and other local libraries have increased funding of digital resources, including research databases and access to other sources of verified, current information. As it was pre-pandemic, the library’s free, fast WiFI is on all day, year-round, and most devices can connect to it from outside of the building. 

The library is following all current state and federal guidelines on serving the public through the pandemic. Curbside services, including computer help, are available to patrons who do not wish to enter the building. Anyone over age two entering the library must wear a mask; folks who forget to bring a mask with them can ask for one at the front desk. These reusable fabric masks were also donated by the library’s Friends group.

Penn Yan Public Library is open 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. In addition to library services, Penn Yan Public Library offers computer access, copy, fax, and scanning service, and one-on-one computer help. The library’s website is Community members are invited to call the library at 315-536-6114, or email, with any questions or comments. The library is located at 214 Main Street in Penn Yan.