While virtual classes and contactless pickups at libraries around the Island became essential during the pandemic, this week brought grateful patrons face to face once again with staffers in the stacks.

“One person really got teary, seeing the new children’s books her children had missed,” said Rosa Parker, director of the Aquinnah Library.

After Gov. Charlie Baker lifted pandemic restrictions on May 29, libraries around the Island began receiving patrons by appointment in some towns and with no restrictions in others. And in addition to actually walking through the doors to browse for books, patrons can look forward to library activities this summer including live music.

The Edgartown Library will host bands on Tuesday evenings in July and August, program director Virginia Munro said, naming Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, the Jaywalkers, Missis Biskis and the Pickpocket Bluegrass Band among the bookings. In West Tisbury, library director Alexandra Pratt said the Pinkletinks will be back performing for kids, and in Chilmark, director Ebba Hierta said acoustic musicians will play on the back patio. All these plans are dependent on public health guidelines, library directors said.

Kids on libraries — a great combination. — Jeanna Shepard

While looking ahead to the future, libraries are also looking back at how they adapted during the pandemic and what shutdown-inspired innovations to maintain going forward. Zoom sessions, practically unknown in early 2020, have joined the libraries’ array of digital services and are likely here to stay, with directors reporting signups from all over the world and audiences reaching the 100-member cutoff for events like Elizabeth Whelan’s drawing classes, hosted by the Vineyard Haven library.

Meanwhile, physical objects — not just books, but what Ms. Pratt called the “library of things,” such as games, puzzles and backpacks filled with science-discovery supplies for kids, fishing rods and reels available for check-out from the Oak Bluffs library and the Chilmark Library’s banjos — have also helped expand library services into users’ homes.

For Ms. Pratt, who had just started her new job in March 2020 when the Covid shutdown began, the pandemic highlighted the importance of library services to the community. “Looking back on March and April [2020], we were incredibly busy,” Ms. Pratt said. “We had our first virtual program a week after we closed to the public.”

Ms. Pratt also secured a grant to help West Tisbury library users without computers of their own.

“We had two outdoor computers under a heat lamp,” she said. “It was huge for people who needed help getting unemployment [and] vaccine signups. Just having computer signups . . . was a huge digital divide for some people.”

Alexanda Pratt is West Tisbury began her job just as the pandemic hit. — Jeanna Shepard

Vineyard Haven Library director Amy Ryan said the pandemic helped narrow that technology divide for some of her patrons, who ventured online during lockdown to take advantage of the library’s digital resources — among them free newspaper subscriptions, streaming entertainment and language lessons.

“A lot of people who maybe felt challenged . . . were able to learn to use them,” Ms. Ryan said.

Library staff also reached out to patrons by phone, she said, even substituting personal calls for automated renewal notices.

Although the doors have swung open again, for the time being all six libraries are requiring patrons to limit the length of their visits generally to 30 minutes or less, and to wear masks inside. Staffers are also masked.

“Children will be in the building, and they can’t get vaccinated,” Ms. Hierta said. “We have babies and toddlers that can’t wear a mask . . . we feel very strongly that we can’t rely on the governor’s honor system to keep them safe.”

Amy Ryan leads the Vineyard Haven Library as it opens its doors again. — Jeanna Shepard

All six libraries are requiring appointments to use their children’s rooms, while other services vary depending on the individual facility.

In Vineyard Haven, Ms. Ryan is keeping new books for children and teens on the main floor for browsing without an appointment. The building’s lower level is currently closed in order to offer longer hours of operation upstairs.

“We’re understaffed,” said Ms. Ryan, who described a resulting dilemma. “Is it more important to have more hours, or more access? We’re listening to people as they come in to see what’s most important to them,” she said.

In Edgartown, library director Lisa Sherman said staffing is not a problem.

“We have fewer than we normally would but enough,” Ms. Sherman said. “These people are . . . rock stars.”

The Edgartown Library has boosted its wi-fi coverage to extend across Robinson Road to the parking lot, she said, and added more outdoor seating to accommodate patrons who wish to linger past the 30-minute browsing limit.

For librarians trained to serve their communities, the changes brought about by the pandemic were profound, calling into question their reason for being.

“The library’s all about sharing . . . and at that time it didn’t seem safe to share physical things,” Ms. Pratt said.

But after more than a year of sharing remotely, in-person visits and browsing are once more on the menu at Island libraries.

“Everybody’s just been so happy to be back. It’s incredibly heartwarming,” Ms. Ryan said.