Members of the Pierce County Library System can now receive library items through the library systems’ new curbside pickup service.
The Executive Assistant to the Director on the Pierce County Library System, Petra McBride, claimed in a personal statement that curbside pickup is an innovative way for books to safely get back into the hands of patrons during the pandemic.
All Pierce County libraries closed to the public on March 14 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Mary Getchell, the marketing and communications director of the Pierce County Library System, staff worked remotely to develop ideas of new services for the locations.
“There are other libraries across the country along with ones in Washington state that had already launched curbside pickup services,” said Getchell. “So we really looked at what they had to offer, and we had guidelines from the office of the Governor as well.”
A test launch for the service began on July 20 when curbside pickup became available at eight of the systems 20 libraries, including; Fife, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Parkland/Spanaway, South Hill, Summit, Sumner and University Place Pierce County Libraries. Following the launch of the curbside service, a total of 18 Pierce County Libraries have adopted the practice.
Two locations don’t currently have the service, one is Pierce County’s Anderson Island location. The Anderson Island location has not received the service due to it regularly only offering service one day a week. The other is a library in the Pierce County Library Systems’ administrative center. It’s only one mile away from the Summit Pierce County library location that does offer curbside pickup, hence its own lack of curbside services.
A Pierce County library card is required in order to utilize the curbside service. Cards can be attained on the Pierce County Library web page, piercecountylibrary.org.
“Once you have your card, you can search for what you want through the online catalog and reserve what you pick out, kind of like normal online shopping,” said Getchell.
Cardholders can choose the way staff will notify them once their items are ready for pickup, whether it be via phone call, text or email. Once notified, the patron is asked to go to the curbside website, curbside.pcls.us, and they select a time to pick their items up.
In the reservation process, a number is given for each order. This is the number of which curbside pickup stall customers shall pull into. Each stall has a phone number to call once arrived where an employee will be notified to bring each pickup out.
“Employees will place each order on the rear on every car, so the entire process remains contactless,” said Getchell.
Getchell noted how staff at every location are taking extreme safety precautions with the service and overall work environment.
State requirements are being followed, as masks are required for everyone on library property. Library staff members are mandated to wear gloves and sanitize all materials being handled.
“We’ve been reviewing a number of scientific studies that’ve been taken to determine if library materials are safe,” said Getchell. Library staff have concluded from the studies that the virus can live for three days on materials. To combat materials getting infected, items are quarantined for four days in a separate room after being used and returned. After the days are up, the products are sanitized and set up to be used again.
Getchell explained that magazines were a part of studies they viewed, in which it was noted that the material used for them sustains the virus for longer. As such, magazines aren’t an option to reserve at this time.
Within the first two weeks, the service had a total of 6,702 appointments made. The number has only increased as time goes on so far and feedback has been positive.
“People that are using the service have been just absolutely thrilled by it,” said Getchell.
McBride noted that additional ways to meet the needs of the community are being considered currently among staff.
For future services the Pierce County Library System is looking to install, Getchell expressed interest in a socially distant “storytime” event in the future for children..
“We’ve also been wanting to find a way to deliver books to people who can’t drive, bike or walk up to any library,” said Getchell.
That’s an idea that library staff has been looking into even before the pandemic and shut down.
Currently, no further services have been announced for the Pierce County Library System. In the meantime, curbside pickup is available for cardholders now along with eBooks that can also be accessed on the Pierce County Library Systems website.
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