Curbside Library is here.

The Burlington Public Library will kick off Curbside Library services for the pickup of library materials on Tuesday, May 19th. “We are excited to be able to connect our users with physical materials again,” said Library Director Rhonda Frevert. “Our digital library never closed and has been quite popular. At the same time, we know many people in the community are eager to checkout materials.”

“We have been planning for this service and waiting for indication that it was safe,” said Public Services Manager Sam Helmick. “We have been following news from the World Health Organization, Center of Disease Control, Iowa’s Department of Public Health as well as leadership from the Governor, City Council, and Library Board.”

Retooling library procedures has been in the works for weeks, as has acquiring personal protective equipment and training Burlington Public Library staff on avoiding contamination based on best practices.

To participate in Curbside Library, community members can go to the online catalog at burlington.lib.ia.us to place a hold on an item or call the library at 319-753-1647 and a librarian can place the hold. If you aren’t sure of titles that you want, the librarian can assemble materials by genre, format, author, or subject. For children, the library team can put together a bag of materials based on age and interests.

To be able to serve as many people as possible, the service is limited to 10 holds per library card.

Users will be notified when their items are ready for pickup.

“The staff team has been working through procedures for curbside service to make it easy and safe. We plan to ask users to bring their library card or ID to the door and show it. We will then place the items on a table outside the door to allow for social distancing,” said Frevert. “Curbside Library is part of our phased in return to in-person services.”

During the building’s closure, the digital library has remained open and expanded. As soon as the building closed, the library staff began promoting digital services and posting how-to videos for the different tools. They also worked with vendors who were offering expanded services. “We heard from several happy users when we announced that card holders could access Ancestry and NewspaperArchives from home,” said Helmick. Prior to this, those tools were only available for in-library use.

The library announced in late April the addition of Hoopla for ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies, television, and comics. With no waiting lists, Hoopla is a welcome addition to the Bridges consortium, the library’s other main source for ebooks and audiobooks. Users also have been discovering streaming music through Freegal and streaming movies through Kanopy. In March, use of Bridges rose by 25%, Freegal use was up by 104%, and Freading, another source for ebooks, increased by 136% compared to March 2019. Kanopy is too new to have a comparison to last year, but it saw a steep climb from the previous month with 150 views in February and 224 in March.

The youth services staff team revamped the website and added new digital tools, like Mackin ebooks. They also have been offering virtual programs and working on retooling the summer reading program.

Anyone who doesn’t have a library card and would like to access the digital library can apply by phone or by digital form on their library website at burlington.lib.ia.us.

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