The Pierce County Library System started contactless curbside service at the Key Center Library Aug. 3.
While the branch building remains closed to the public to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, curbside service allows patrons to pick up items selected through the library’s online catalog, including books, movies and other materials.
Nearly 7,000 pick-up appointments were scheduled during the first two weeks of curbside service across Pierce County in July.
“The first day, we had 17 appointments and 15 walk-ups. We would love to see it go up,” said KP Library’s Supervising Librarian Corrine Weatherly. “We’re seeing all of our regular customers. We’re seeing new customers. And we would love to see people all day, every day when we’re open,”
“We have two appointments at a time with two parking spaces. We also take walk-ups. We have a doorbell beside our meeting room people can ring and get helped on the spot,” Weatherly said. “If anybody needs help at all, they can call the library during our open hours. We have really missed the community and the best part of our day is talking with people on the phone, delivering stuff to people out in their cars, and talking with people from 6 feet apart outside.”
Grab bags of items selected by library staff are also available for curbside pick-up. When requesting a grab bag, custom questions will help librarians select books, DVDs or CDs based on your interests.
“We have a lot of fun with that. We take a lot of time to pick out stuff,” Weatherly said. “We get a lot of requests for kids’ grab bags. We had one where they wanted all horror books and movies. The staff is really enjoying just surprising people.”
Activity packs with hands-on, creative learning activities can be collected curbside as well, with options for children, teens and adults.
Meghan Callaway of Lakebay said her daughter Amelia, 4, loved the summer vacation bingo activity in the preschool-age pack.
“We went for a drive and she colored in the things she saw along the way,” Callaway said. “My favorite activity was the math walks. I had Amelia guess how many steps it would take to get to multiple places on our property. She had fun while learning at the same time.”
The library’s website or mobile app can be used to place holds, renew materials, and schedule curbside appointments.
“We have people calling us to help make appointments and to help place holds,” Weatherly said. “A lot of people don’t have internet service or don’t know how to use our website and we love helping people.”
Social distancing is required on library grounds and masks must be worn at all times by everyone age 5 and over.
“We wear masks all the time in the building and we’ve worked out workflows so we’re not within 6 feet of each other,” Weatherly said. “We feel really comfortable.”
The book drop is open for returns and items will be quarantined for four days before being checked in.
“There was a big study done, the REALM study,” Weatherly said. “They studied the amount of time the virus lived on various library materials and that’s how we determined our quarantine time.”
Due to the pandemic, the library system has decided not to assess fines for the remainder of 2020.
“A lot of thought has been put into not just how to do things safely, but how to provide the services people need,” Weatherly said. “Money could have the virus on it, so we’re not doing any cash handling. It used to be that if people had $10 in fines, we couldn’t check out to them, but we are disregarding that and checking out to everybody regardless of their fines.”
The window for picking up held items has been extended to 14 days and borrowed items will be checked out for 28 days. Print jobs can be requested for curbside delivery.
The library continues to encourage people to utilize their various free, online services, including downloadable e-books, audiobooks and magazines. Wi-Fi is available outside the building.
“We miss having people in the library and we miss talking with everybody. It’s the beautiful part of our jobs,” Weatherly said. “We are in mourning for our jobs the way they were.”
For more information, go to curbside.pcls.us or call Key Center Library at 253-548-3309.