The Merrickville Public Library is happy to be running curbside pick up again after a long hiatus due to COVID-19. Librarian Mary-Kate Laphen says they were doing curbside pick up at the beginning of the pandemic, but stopped in order to ensure the safety of staff and patrons. However, as soon as they got the green light from the province on May 19, they have been accepting requests for books over the phone, email, and through their library catalogue. “We had people calling and asking for curbside pick up,” Mary-Kate says. “People were missing it for sure.”
Mary-Kate said they are not only taking requests for specific books but are also willing to curate titles for people who are not sure exactly what they want. Patrons can call or email the library and ask for a specific genre, author, or topic, and library staff are happy to suggest options, or put together an order. This is particularly helpful for parents who want a few new children’s books to keep them going while they have their kids at home. “They can tell us what their kids like, and we can pick some out,” Mary-Kate says. “It’s fun and we really enjoy it.”
Once the books have been ordered, patrons can arrange a time to pick them up in a completely contactless way by using the library’s porch as a pick-up point. So far, it has been working well and the volume is not high enough that they have to worry about a line out the door. The parking lot that was closed due to the closure of the park is now open and patrons can drive up to the library to pick up or drop off books. Mary-Kate says they are not charging late fees for people that may have had books since the state of emergency was declared in Ontario in March. “We are being very flexible.” Mary-Kate and her other staff member, Linda, have been keeping busy ever since the library closed its doors to the public. They have been reorganizing the collection, and also producing multiple story times each week, which have been broadcasted over their Facebook page. Most recently, Mary-Kate has been showcasing Mo Willem’s books, which include The pigeon that needs a bath. “I read the last part from my bathtub,” Mary-Kate says. “We’ve been having some fun with it.” The catalogue of story times will be on the library’s Facebook page until the end of June.
Library staff have also been busy ensuring that they are ready to welcome people back into the building once the province says it is safe to do so. This includes ensuring that patrons can adhere to social distancing regulations while in the building, installing a barrier at the check out desk and hand sanitizer throughout the library. “The library will be different, but even more wonderful when people can come back,” Mary-Kate says.
Like all libraries, Mary-Kate is not sure when the library will be able to open again and what they will be able to offer in terms of programming over the summer. She is hoping that they might be able to hold outdoor story times to allow for physical distancing that might be more difficult in the library building. That being said, she is holding off on announcing any summer programming until the state of emergency is lifted by the province. In the meantime though, Mary-Kate encourages anyone who needs their services to get in touch. “There are lots of people helping everyone get through this, and we are here too.”