WARSAW — Though some area libraries remain closed during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, their countless books, movies and other resources have been once again made available to the public through a new contactless curbside pickup program.
The program, which launched on Monday, allows individuals to log on to the owwl.org website, select the library of their choice from the drop-down menu, and then choose up to seven books or movies they’d like to borrow. When those orders are fulfilled by library staff, borrowers will receive a phone call to schedule a contactless pickup during specified curbside hours.
“We are pulling these requests throughout the day, checking them out to individuals, putting them into bags, and giving them a phone call when their items are ready to be picked up,” said Lisa Grucius, director of the Warsaw Public Library, on Tuesday. “And when they get here, they can come retrieve them.”
Upon arrival, people need only pull up to the curb, call the library, and listen for further instructions in order to ensure social distancing is maintained while they pick up their materials, Grucius said. Masks or face coverings are required.
While not quite the same as browsing the shelves in person, a reality that may “create some difficulties” for library patrons, Grucius said, at the very least, the process allows community members some much-needed access to the many library resources that had been closed off for so long.
“We want people to know, too, that they can call us,” Grucius said. “We can help them choose books. We can help them through this.”
And so far, at least, community members are excited — as many as 48 holds were placed, and mostly on books, before Monday’s 9 a.m. program launch, Grucius said. Contactless pickup has gone “very, very well” ever since.
“People seem to be really itching to get some books in their hands,” Grucius said. “Our summer reading program also began yesterday — this summer, it’s all going to be done through take-and-make kits with YouTube videos and other instructions — and within five hours, all of our summer reading activities for children were gone. They were all spoken for.”
But more activities and materials will be made available throughout the summer, Grucius said.
And of course, there will always be more books.
“We have tons of new books that have been ordered during quarantine,” Grucius said. “They are here and ready to go. If families are not sure what they want, we can create book bags for them as well so that they have the books to read. Anybody who might not be sure about books can call us — we are here to help.”
In Warsaw, contactless curbside services are available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays.
Grucius reminded patrons that all materials must be returned to the book drop for the time being — so that they can be quarantined for at least 72 hours — and that donations have been temporarily halted owing to COVID-related concerns.
Hours and specific protocols at other area libraries may differ.
Across Wyoming County, curbside pickup proves just the first in a series of phases created to help ease the process of “returning to normal” at area libraries. While library leaders are reviewing guidance regularly, and have aligned their opening plans with one another, there is no estimated date for full reopening.
Anyone with more questions should refer to his or her local library’s website or Facebook page for more information.