GARDINER — For weeks, the Gardiner Public Library has been using its takeout window to make books, magazines and movies available to patrons while the city’s public buildings, including the library, have been closed to the public.

On Monday, when city buildings, with some exceptions, are expected to reopen to the public after a little more than two months, the takeout window will still be available.

Dawn Thistle, archive librarian for the Gardiner Public Library, said initially, the number of people allowed in the library at one time will be limited and they will be restricted to the main floor during the first week.

During the week of March 8, the public will have access to the library’s public computers with a 30-minute time limit.

Starting March 15, the Children’s Room will be open to family pods and the Archive Room will be open to one visitor at a time.

The takeout window has been popular with library patrons, and it has fueled the creativity of library staff in putting together Binge Bags.

“They are themed bags,” Thistle said, “like a winter-themed bag or a space-themed bag. We have bags of movies or bags of books. Those have been going like hotcakes.”

She said people have called asking for bags of mysteries or bags of anything; someone asked for five movies with trains in them.

Thistle said it’s been a new world for library staff, who are browsing shelves for patrons, and connecting them with books or movies they might not have otherwise seen.

“The takeout window is not going away anytime soon,” Thistle said, “and we’re going to keep up with the Binge Bags and catering to whatever we can provide to people.”

In coming weeks, she said, the library will have three Chromebooks with hotspots to lend.

On Dec. 28, City Manager Christine Landes announced the closure of city buildings to the public out of concern about the anticipated increase in COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel and gatherings.

While the number of new reported cases were very low in September and most of October — mostly fewer than two dozen a day — the daily case numbers starting rising aggressively through the rest of the year, peaking at 824 cases in mid-January.

Initially, the closure was expected to last until at least Jan. 18, but it was extended twice through the end of February.

City Hall and the adjacent Public Safety lobby will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday; and 8 a.m. to noon Friday.

Limits on the number of people allowed inside will be posted on the doors and mask use is required.

No wedding ceremonies will be performed at City Hall, and all General Assistance matters will be completed remotely.

The city will continue to restrict public access to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Public Works and the Fire Department.

While City Hall will be open, many city services can be accessed online at gardinermaine.com or maine.gov/informe.

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