MCPL to begin offering curbside pickup services May 18
By Tyler Schneider
Mid-Continent Public Library staff reopened book drops at all branches Monday, May 11, offering customers the opportunity to return materials for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak forced a full system closure, March 15.
MCPL has already suspended due dates through June 1, but the drop boxes will allow customers to return books earlier than that at their own leisure. Once collected, all returned items will be quarantined for a 72-period before they are checked back into the library’s system.
On May 18, MCPL will start to offer curbside service for customers who have placed holds on materials. Customers are asked to call their branch after they get a notification that their item is ready for pickup so staff can stay organized as they bring materials out to cars. Curbside service will end one hour earlier than each branch’s regular closing time.
“We want people to be able to use all the resources we have, but we also don’t want to be an environment for spreading [COVID-19]. It’s going to be a balance going forward,” MCPL Community Relations and Planning Director Jim Staley.
Branches will remain closed in a physical sense for an indefinite period of time as library staff continue to monitor the data.
“We don’t have a timetable for resuming our live programs, or for when people will be allowed to use our meeting rooms. Under the guidelines many of our jurisdictions have, it would be hard for us to even have very many people in the building,” Staley said.
For now, Zoom will have to do for those looking to assemble to complete a research project or conduct a meeting.
“Libraries in this day and age have become a gathering place for people. We would imagine that we would get back to that at some point, but it is a mystery as to how fast that will be the case,” Staley said.
There is a silver-lined alternative for the technologically inclined, however, as MCPL has spent part of the quarantine period making investments in additional e-resources and digital content for use in the home.
“While we were closed, we ramped up our purchasing of [e-resource] materials. In my mind that’s one way people can connect with our libraries without even coming in. We also still have plenty of people who prefer physical books, and we’ll be continuing to serve them as well,” Staley said.
Staley admits that it could be a while before libraries can safely open back up. When they finally do, efficient tracking will be of the utmost importance — an area where libraries face a unique set of challenges.
“One of the things about libraries is exposure, because people do come in for a longer amount of time,” Staley said. “That’s something we’re trying to work through and discuss with other regional library branches in the area.”