Local libraries shift to curbside pick up as COVID-19 measures continue

Libraries in Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County quickly moved to offer e-books and programs virtually when they were forced to close in March. As COVID-19 measures continue, many are now offering curbside pick up for their members.

Library members can place items on hold online or via phone

As COVID-19 measures continue in Waterloo region and Wellington County, local libraries have moved to offer curbside pickup for members. (Carmen Groleau/CBC News)

Libraries in Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County are now offering members curbside pick up on items as municipalities continue to reopen but with measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Libraries were among many facilities and businesses that had to close their doors in March after the province announced a state of emergency and quickly pivoted to offer members online programs and services, as well as more e-books and audio books.

Now, libraries are allowed to bring some staff back to work and begin to offer curbside pick up to the community.

"We've been greeted like old friends and a number of staff have reported some people are crying coming to the library because it's a sense of some form of normal has returned in the community," Murray McCabe from the Wellington County Library told CBC News. 

Wellington County Library has been offering curbside pick up since May 21 and since then, McCabe said thousands of members have come through in their cars, on their bikes and on foot. 

The library has also received roughly 13,000 items returned and staff are also working to ramp up the library's internet hot spot program.

McCabe said during their closure, it was not uncommon to find people parked in library parking lots to access the wi-fi for work or school.

How does it work?

Many of the libraries in Waterloo region, Guelph and Wellington County follow a similar structure, where members place an item they want on hold through the library's online catalogue or over the phone.

From there, staff will collect those items, and notify members when it's ready for pick up. Returned items are isolated for a 72-hour period before they can be put on hold by members. 

Staff at the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) are in the midst of their training as they plan to offer curbside pick up on June 15.

"We know we are still a significant partner and resource for many of our community members and being able to circulate items and seeing people's, even if it's from a distance, delight in being able to receive their packages is probably what I'm looking forward the most," said Mary Chevreau, CEO of the KPL.

The Wellington County Library has been offering curbside pick up since May 21. Murray McCabe with the library says thousands of people have been accessing the service since. (Submitted by: Murray McCabe)

When and where?

Some libraries have already launched their curbside pick up service at some library branch locations.

Region of Waterloo Library and Guelph Public Library have been offering the service since June 1, while the Wellington County Library has been offering the service since May 21.

KPL, Idea Exchange and the Waterloo Public Library are all set to launch the service the week of June 15.

Wellington County Library: Curbside pickup at all 14 branches with modified hours.

Guelph Public Library: By appointment only Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all locations, except the library's West End branch and Bookmobile stops.

Region of Waterloo Library: Curbside pick up at the library's 10 branches. Staff are asking patrons to book an appointment in advance.

Kitchener Public Library: Will begin to offer curbside pick up June 15. Members can put items on hold through KPL's online catalogue now. Pick ups will only be available at the Central Branch.

Waterloo Public Library: Also set to launch curbside pick up June 15 at their main branch and the John M. Harper branch. Patrons can put items on hold now and won't need to make an appointment for pick up.

Idea Exchange: Curbside pick up will be available at all Idea Exchange locations starting June 16 from 10:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.


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