Ottawa Public Library to offer curbside pickup, returns

The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) will begin a partial resumption of services by offering curbside pickup and return of books at six locations starting in June.

1st phase of reopening plan set to start in June

The Ottawa Public Library's Main branch is one of six locations that will open during the first phase of the library's reopening plan. (Danny Globerman/CBC)


  • The library board approved the plan for limited curbside pickup at its May 28 meeting.

The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) will begin a partial resumption of services by offering curbside pickup and return of books at six locations starting in June.

The first phase of OPL's reopening plan is detailed in a report going before the Ottawa Public Library Board on Thursday, and still needs to be approved by the board.

"Planning for the recovery of operations during COVID is complex," the report says. "It is not the same as resuming normal operations. It is unprecedented for OPL and requires redesigning many, if not all, services to accommodate new requirements for safety, such as through physical distancing."

Under the plan, libraries will begin accepting returned books and scheduling appointments for people to pick up held items starting June 8. On June 15, people can start picking up their items.

Curbside pickup will be available at the following six branches: Beaverbrook, Cumberland, Greenboro, Main, Nepean Centrepointe and Ruth E. Dickinson. 

The library will also relaunch its Homebound delivery service to private residences.

Libraries closed since mid-March

All library branches have been closed since March 16, although some virtual services have continued. The provincial government said on May 14 that library services could resume as of May 19, as long as services are limited to curbside pickup.

There are currently 500,000 items checked out to OPL customers, the report says.

"Current checkouts and anticipated returns represent a significant volume of material," the report says. "Planning for returns also includes a new consideration: the requirement for material to be quarantined, safely, for 72 hours, and the required space to store material during this time."

There are approximately 14,000 items on hold at library branches across the city. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

Another 14,000 materials are on hold on library shelves for approximately 8,000 customers. Staff estimate it will take a minimum of two weeks to clear the backlog.

Customers who order items that aren't on the shelves at one of the six designated locations will be able to choose which of the six locations they want to pick them up at.

The six branches were chosen because they're all larger facilities that can accommodate the large number of returns, because of their geographic spread across the city, and because they have adequate parking and access to public transportation, the report says.

Effective June 15, operating hours at the six locations will be as follows: 

  • Mondays from 10 a.m. to  6 p.m. 
  • Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m

Staff estimate the new curbside pickup model, along with enhanced measures to ensure the health and safety of staff, will cost approximately $100,000.

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