There were a lot of repetitious conversations Monday at the St. Simons branch library.

Patrons would walk in with sacks and armloads of books and say, “We’re glad you’re back.”

The individual staff members would answer, “We’re glad to be back.”

The staff hasn’t actually been anywhere. They’ve been working through a shutdown that started March 26 to change and rearrange shelves, put in new furniture in the reading area and a new children’s area.

Before the closure, the library appealed to patrons to come get as many books as they wanted, and library manager Hester Montford said many obliged, checking out an estimated 3,000 volumes and other materials.

Some of the shelf end caps were reused while some others are new. In the reading area, there is new comfortably padded furniture, including four rocking chairs.

The children’s area seems to have shrunk, but the books are still there and the new shelves are on wheels, which means they can be rolled out of the way to open up more floor space for story time, Montford said.

The opening was welcome to Betty Jane Hunt, who spends April on St. Simons visiting her daughter’s family.

It wasn’t until Monday that she was able to resume her daily habit of reading the newspaper in the library and then going outside to the Casino bandstand to sit reading a book in one of the porch rockers.

Some new arrivals to the island were making their first visit.

Ashley Chandler came in with her sons, Ben, 5, and Teddy, 1. Teddy was engrossed in the children’s books and Ben immediately headed for a video game.

As for the staff, they checked in stack upon stack of returned books and began the process of re-shelving them.

Like every other library in the system, patrons can request books from anywhere in the state. When the books arrive locally, notifications go out by email or phone. Under the new design, those books will be waiting in bookcases where patrons can pick them up and head to the checkout as they do with other materials.

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