WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg said more library employees who were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic are coming back to work.

The city announced Wednesday that 91 temporary, part-time employees are being recalled to help manage holds and contactless pickup at 10 library branches. The employees are expected to come back to work starting February 8.

The recall is due to the “incredible demand” for holds and curbside pickup, Jay Shaw, the director of Winnipeg’s emergency operation centre said.

“Our community services branch has always provided a great service for our residents with the library services, and with the closure, there are many residents that are still accessing (the library) and wanting to be able to get their books and their library materials,” he said.

“What we noticed is that the volume as people extended into code red, and the volume of requests for holds pickup were increasing, so this is a step to try and get us back to a reasonable amount of time to try and get those pickups out for folks.”

The city temporarily laid off approximately 600 staff members in the community service department due to the code red restrictions in November.

While libraries in Winnipeg are closed for browsing, 10 branches are open to allow returns and contactless hold pickup. Shaw said there are currently no plans to open additional library branches, but said there is a possibility hours could be expanded at the open branches for holds pickup and returns.