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Dec. 4, 2020 | Friday
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COVID-19: Library offers curbside and online options
Cathy Simpson, chief librarian and CEO of NOTL Public Library. (Brittany Carter)

NOTL residents can now look forward to getting library books back in their hands. 

Starting June 8, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library will launch curbside pickup for community members.  

The library spent the last two months operating strictly online through its website, with online workshops, clubs and trivia. 

Returns now can be dropped-off at the library and holds can be placed on books for the upcoming curbside pickup. Reservations can be made by phone or online.  

“We’ve just started receiving book returns. Our dropbox was not open until last week,” Debbie Krause, the library's community engagement co-ordinator, told The Lake Report on Tuesday. 

“Today was the first day some books came out of quarantine,” she said. 

“Books always go through a 72-hour quarantine before we can actually check them in and shelve them. So today was the very first day we were actually putting books on the shelf, and also pulling holds for people who had holds in place before the lockdown.” 

Cathy Simpson, chief librarian and CEO, said the 72-hour quarantine of returned materials is done to ensure safety. 

The library's curbside pickup service will involve putting reserving a book, either online or by phone, and then scheduling a time to pickup at the library. 

This past Tuesday was the first day people could arrange for June 8 curbside pickup  – and all available spots on that first pickup day were quickly filled.

“Staff handling materials will be wearing masks and gloves and we're looking to schedule the pickups far enough apart so that people don't cross each other's paths,” Simpson said. 

Patrons won’t be able to enter the building, but the library will be utilizing the circular drive out front as a kind of drive-thru, she said. 

“You don't have to drive, you can walk too,” Simpson said. 

“That way people will just pull up or walk up. We have a mobile bookcase that'll be out there, and their items will be clearly labelled so they don’t end up touching other people’s stuff.” 

Krause said the library will post videos and pictures online to show how the process is going to work so people know what to expect.  

“Near the end of June, we will be implementing a delivery service to our homebound patrons, or those who are most isolated,” she said, “but the logistics of that needs to be sorted out a little bit.” 

She said the library has quite a few patrons who can't leave home and was operating a robust delivery service before all the shutdowns due to COVID-19. 

“We know those people are out there, definitely. They've been on our minds this whole time because so much has gone online,” she said. “And those are also the people that can't be reached that way, so sooner rather than later, hopefully, we'll be able to get that going.” 

“We’re asking for people’s patience, but we’re using an abundance of caution just slowly trying to get the protocols in place, one step at a time,” Krause added. 

“It can work as slick as possible but there are going to be kinks because we’ve had so many unknowns. So one thing at a time.” 

Krause recognizes her hardworking team that knows if something needs to be done, they are all willing to do it. 

“It's not going to be perfect but at least something's happening and we'll get the books into their hands as quick as we can, as cautiously as possible."

While residents are eager to get reading materials back in their hands, there is a wealth of resources through the library online at www.notlpubliclibrary.org

The website provides online reading resources available through Cloud Library for adults and the Tumble Books Collection for children. The National Film Board of Canada and Mango Languages are also accessible from the library’s homepage for those looking for something interesting to watch or to learn a new language.  

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Heritage Portal on the website is where the library is digitizing its local history collection for community member sto learn more about the town they live in.  

Simpson said another easy-to-use resource on the website is a link on the homepage called “While the library is closed,” which is divided into family and adult sections.  

These provide curated resources including online programming information, activities and lessons, virtual story times and book readings, zoo and museum experiences, concert streams, exercise videos, free streaming services and limited-time free trials. 

Simpson wants patrons to know there are all kinds of great resources available on the library’s website. 

“You can still talk to us as well,” she said. “You can phone us, email us and we have a real-time chat.” 

Anyone looking for help navigating the new curbside pickup process or online resources is encouraged to contact the library. 

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