Update Status for Decorah Public Library


Library to fully reopen June 1

Beginning June 1, Decorah Public Library will move into the Rainbow Zone of its Pandemic Response Plan and will expand open hours, services and available spaces. The library will once again be open 54 hours per week, as it was pre-renovations and pre-covid. Open hours will include 9 AM to 7 PM Monday through Thursday, 9 AM to 5 PM on Friday, and 9 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays.

Furniture will be returned to the public areas of the library and visitors are welcome to spend as much time in the building as they’d like. Public access computers will return to normal operations and will be available for patrons to use at their leisure. The mezzanine, one study room, and the Public Meeting Room will also be available. Please visit the DPL website to review public meeting room use guidelines and/or to fill out a reservation form.

Curbside pickup remains a popular and convenient way for patrons to check out materials, so the library will begin offering a slightly updated version of it. Starting on June 1, curbside pickup bags and the regular reserve books, formerly kept behind the front desk, will be merged. All items placed on reserve will be checked out to the patron’s account and placed on a table or shelf in the main entryway. Patrons will no longer need to come to the desk to check out a reserve item: simply walk in during open hours and grab the items labeled with your name.

Masks will be required in the library building as long as the City of Decorah has a mask mandate in effect. When that mandate is lifted, mask use will still be encouraged so that the library’s youngest patrons, who are currently ineligible for vaccines, are able to enjoy the library.

Library Director Kristin Torresdal said, “Like all of you, we have been eager to reach the Rainbow Zone and are thrilled to return to a full complement of open hours and remove time restrictions on patron visits. We look forward to seeing more of our patrons face-to-face in the near future, and we hope you enjoy the fresh new look of the library and take advantage of all available services.”

Please visit the library’s website and social media pages for the complete list of available services, or call 563-382-3717 with questions.



Library to Expand In-Person Access Feb. 24

According to the State of Iowa, Winneshiek County COVID-19 14-day average positivity rates are around 4%, so Decorah Public Library staff are preparing to implement Green Zone Express In-Person services on Wednesday February 24. In the Green Zone, patrons will be able to access the following services for up to 45 minutes per day: in-person book browsing; in-person checkouts; a limited number of public computers; limited seating for indoor Wi-Fi access; printing/scanning.

In order to encourage patrons to move quickly through the building, seating will only be available at public computer and Wi-Fi stations. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, staff will be unable to provide technology assistance and restrooms are closed to the public.

Curbside pickup, book bundles, outdoor Wi-Fi access, digital programming and all other services offered in the previous phases will continue and are still the safest ways of interacting with the library. The City of Decorah’s mask policy will be enforced inside the library building and 6 ft. social distancing will be required.

According to Library Director Kristin Torresdal, the current plan is to offer Express In-Person Services from 11-6pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; 11-5pm on Fridays; and 10a-2p on Saturdays. Some adjustments in days/hours of service may occur as community needs are determined.

Please visit the library’s website and social media pages for the most up-to-date information on what phase the library is in and what services are currently available, or call 563-382-3717 to ensure open hours prior to arrival. The full Pandemic Response Plan is available at


The Decorah Public Library Board of Trustees approved a revised Pandemic Response Plan at a special
meeting on Tuesday January 26. Under this plan, the Library’s phased reopening will be determined by
specific COVID-19 benchmarks in Winneshiek County. The new plan was adapted from plans developed
by public libraries in Iowa City and Waterloo and will connect available services to the ebb and flow of
local case rates.

“Because the building was closed for construction, we had not substantially refreshed our pandemic
response plan since April. Since that time, more detailed information has become available as our
colleagues across Iowa have taken the lead in crafting detailed, responsive plans rooted in the most up-todate science around covid in the library environment. Now that building renovations are wrapping up, it is
time to update our own plan with current data and benchmarks, and make sure it is aligned with best
practices in the field, before welcoming patrons back into the building” explained Board President Andrea

“This phased approach will empower library staff to quickly pivot to new phases of service. It also provides the public with a clear explanation of what they can expect from the library based on current conditions,” Beckendorf continued.

Library leadership will use 14-day percent positivity rates from to determine which phase of the plan the library can be in.

● When rates are above 10%, the library is in the Red Zone and the building will be closed to the public. Curbside pickup, book bundles, and other distanced services are available to the public.
● When rates are between 5 and 10%, the library is in the Yellow Zone and the building will be open for limited access to computer services only. All services in the Red Zone will continue.
● When rates are under 5%, the library is in the Green Zone and the building will be open for limited browsing. All services in the Yellow and Red Zones will continue.
● When vaccines are freely available to everyone, the library will move into the Rainbow Zone and resume normal, pre-Pandemic operations.

When a benchmarked percentage is reached, the Library Director will begin the process of moving the library into a new phase of service. Once internal readiness is achieved, the library will implement and publicize the change.

“As library professionals, we pride ourselves on seeking out quality sources of information; it was important to us that the pandemic response plan be based on sound data and advice from other libraries and public health professionals,” Library Director Kristin Torresdal shared. “We know that we’re a critical resource for many, and also that we need to balance access with the safety of our community. This plan provides the flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing environment, while tying changes to a set of clearly identifiable benchmarks that will determine our path going forward.”

As always, please visit the library’s website and social media pages for the most up-to-date information on what phase the library is in and what services are currently available, or call 563-382-3717.


Decorah Public Library staff report that interior renovations are about to begin after some initial delays due to Covid-19-related manufacturing shutdowns and busy contractor schedules. The project, which was initially slated to run August-October, is now scheduled for late September- December. This particular project has been in the works since 2017, and follows on the heels of a series of exterior renovations completed in summer/fall 2019.

Library Director Kristin Torresdal said, “Library staff will continue to work hard to meet community needs via curbside services, hand-curated  book bundles, digital services, and  remote tech assistance during the library renovation . We can’t wait to share the updated building with the community when it’s completed. While the delay is frustrating, we believe that the end result will be well worth the wait.”

As previously reported, the current phase of the renovation project includes the replacement of failing skylight panels, the installation of new commercial grade flooring, and interior painting- all of which require significant relocation of library materials, technology, and furniture. Library staff will share photos of the work-in-progress on social media for the duration of the project.

Torresdal continued, “If you haven’t had a chance to try our curbside services, feel free to give us a call and we’ll walk you through the process- our staff are excellent at suggesting books for all ages and patrons have remarked upon how fun and easy it is. We also have many options available online, including e-books, digital audiobooks, film streaming, and digital programming.

Our website and social media pages highlight additional resources from community partners and colleagues across the U.S. We also have a new weekly e-newsletter for youth and families, highlighting book recommendations and services. If you have a question or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email.”

Contact Torresdal at or Library Board President Andrea Beckendorf at with questions.


The Decorah Public Library will remain closed to the public while undergoing interior renovations this fall. The Library Board met Monday August l O to discuss safety and logistical elements related to the replacement of skylight panels, the installation of commercial grade flooring, and interior painting.

Phase II projects- part of a comprehensive list of updates that have been in process since summer 2017-will require that all contents of the building be moved (in some cases, twice) in order to complete the needed work. The majority of the materials being replaced date to the library addition project in 1996, and at 24 years old have reached end-of-life.

Library staff will provide curbside services to the fullest extent possible during this time period and will notify the public in advance of any pause in availability.

Projects are expected to be completed by October 30; the Library Board will review progress at their meetings on September 14 and October 12.
Contact President Andrea Beckendorf at or Library Director Kristin Torresdal at with questions or comments.


The Decorah Public Library will continue to accept returned library materials, offer curbside materials pickup (which began June 1), and create digital program opportunities for children and families for at least another month.

The Library Board met Monday June 8 and, after a lengthy discussion, decided that the library building will remain closed to the public for the time being. Discussion included a look at the specific parameters related to Fire Marshall occupancy formulas distributed to all public Libraries by the State Library of Iowa, which include number of public entrances, accessibility, square footage, and number of library staff working in the building. Using the Fire Marshall formula, a maximum of 10-12 patrons would bring the building to the 50% capacity and still allow the library to remain in compliance with the governor’s directive. Potential safety measures (plexiglass shields at service points), and appropriate cleaning, availability of cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, and specific guidelines for cleaning (such as for public computers), are also factors in re-opening. Any in-person services in the library would be limited. The Board will review current circumstances and criteria for taking any further action on the phased re-opening plan at their July 13 meeting.

Following Monday’s Board meeting, Library Board of Trustees President Andrea Beckendorf said, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Director Torresdal and the library staff for their continued work to provide library materials and services to the community. At the Board meeting, we heard how excited patrons were to receive materials through curbside pickup, and we appreciate the library staff working out an efficient process to begin that service. The Board has a shared goal – with library staff and the community – of working towards re-opening. That process started back in May with the approval of the staged plan, and the strong consensus at the June meeting was to continue with the current level of services. Our focus right now is on balancing access to materials with broader health and safety considerations. We are actively seeking ideas for new and additional ways for the library to offer services, and welcome input from the community.”

Contact President Andrea Beckendorf at or Library Director Kristin Torresdal at with questions or comments.


The Decorah Public Library begins offering curbside materials pickup on Monday June 1.

Library books, books on CD, and DVDs will be available for curbside pickup from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Beginning June 8, interlibrary loan services will also resume, so items not owned by Decorah Public Library may be borrowed from other libraries across the state.

Anyone wishing to select items for curbside pickup may do so by using the library’s online catalog or by calling the library at 382-3717. If requested, Library staff will be happy to share reading recommendations. Brand new video recommendations for children’s and young adult materials are available on Facebook as well. Library phone lines are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and voicemail is available after hours. Ten items may be reserved at once, and ten items checked out per pickup date.

Once reserved items become available, Library staff will contact individuals to schedule a pickup date. Items will be bagged and labeled on tables near the loading dock on the south side of the building (off Winnebago St.). Parking is available, or cars may pull in and drive downhill through the lower parking lot to exit. Rain location will be in the covered parking area located underneaththe library. Checkouts are for 3 weeks, with one renewal available. No late fines will accrue during this time. Both exterior library book drops are now open for returns.

Returned materials are quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours before being reintegrated with the library collection.

Click HERE for instructions on reserving materials for Curbside Pickup.

Call the library at 563-382-3717 for more information.

05-13-2020:  The Decorah Public Library will continue to be closed to the public but will open exterior book drops and begin accepting returned library materials on Monday May 18. The move is part of a phased expansion of services unanimously approved by the Library Board of Trustees at their Monday May 11 meeting.

Library staff request that materials be returned gradually so that they are able to keep up with the processing and quarantining of items as they come back. Patrons with last names beginning A-M are asked to return items May 18-24 and patrons with last names beginning N-Z are asked to return items May 25-31. All materials will be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours before being reintegrated with the rest of the library collection. Beginning June 1, items may be returned to the two exterior library book drops at any time.

A projected June 1 start date for curbside pickup of library materials has also been announced, with details about the procedure for requesting and picking up items to be solidified by the end of May.

Library Director Kristin Torresdal said “We are working hard to prepare appropriate procedures for material returns and curbside pickup, with the safety of patrons and staff taking top priority. With the addition of curbside pickup, we will again be performing all of the essential services outlined in our mission statement despite the necessary ongoing closure of our building. We will continue to offer online programming, tech help, expanded ebook, audiobook, and film content, plus wifi access around the perimeter of our building.”

The phased expansion of services plan includes six stages, the first three of which- preparation, returns, and curbside pickup- were approved for implementation by the Library Board, with the inclusion of additional language that allows for plan modifications based on new data, public health guidelines, and best practices according to professional library organizations. The Board will discuss progress, new developments, and implementation of additional phases at their June 8 meeting.

When curbside procedures are finalized, that information will be made available on the library’s website, social media, and in local media outlets.

Contact Torresdal at with questions.


05-05-2020:  We’ve heard that you’re eager to learn about what comes next for the library and we want you to know that we’re currently working on determining that very thing. The Library Board of Trustees and the Library Director will continue to review available resources and to discuss appropriate measures for a phased-in expansion of services. We know that Governor Reynolds lifted restrictions on libraries as of May 1 but that doesn’t negate our responsibility for making informed decisions specific to our own community.  Our primary concern is the health and safety of our community and we will take the time necessary to feel confident that we’re prepared to take any next steps. Stay tuned for additional information after the May 11 Library Board meeting.