Berks County Public Libraries will begin offering curbside pick-up service to patrons, the Berks libraries system announced in a release on June 5 after Berks County transitioned to the Yellow Phase.
“This is the first step of a phased reopening under guidance from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and local officials,” according to the libraries system statement in the release.
“Since mid-March when libraries in Berks County closed their doors to in-person service, library directors have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and evaluating best practices to reopen safely for their patrons and staff.”
At this time, buildings remain closed to the public as they enter into the first phase of the reopening process but will offer curbside service to patrons for materials currently available from their location. Patrons may request holds using the online catalog and will be notified when their order is ready to pick up. All materials will be quarantined before returning to circulation, according to the release.
“Each library developed its own phased-in approach to providing limited services during Governor Wolf’s designated Yellow Phase,” said Stephanie Williams, District Consultant for the Reading Library District in the release. “The Office of Commonwealth Libraries recently issued the Framework for Reopening Libraries, supporting all public libraries in our efforts to safely provide in-person services again in our communities. Library staff will implement health and safety measures in accordance with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies.”
Digital library service remains available to all county residents with a Berks County Public Library card. Berks County residents without a card can apply online through the countywide catalog or register for an Instant Digital Card until June 30. Libraries continue to offer virtual programming online and through social media.
“Not all library services will look the same as in a pre-pandemic environment,” said Williams, “but libraries will continue to adapt and evolve as needed to best serve their community.”
The libraries system noted in the release that each library will be following their own set of reopening guidelines which may not align with other locations. This includes what date libraries will be reopening for curbside service. Individuals looking for the latest information about their library’s reopening procedure are encouraged to visit www.berkslibraries.org or call their local library directly.
"The Boyertown Community Library is anxious to begin service to the community. On Wednesday, June 10 at 1 p.m., curbside pickup will begin. Our hours of service have changed," said Susan C. Lopez, director, Boyertown Community Library in a statement to media about the reopening.
New hours for the Boyertown Community Library are Monday, Thursday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday 1 to 7 p.m. The library will be closed on Friday.
"Patrons will be able to order items either online or by phone and patrons who had items on hold prior to the shutdown, will be able to pick up those items. Patrons will also be able to return items in the outdoor book drops as well," said Lopez.
All due dates have been pushed back until July 15 and no fines will be charged on these items.
"The social distancing and safety guidelines provided by the Commonwealth and the CDC will be followed. Curbside pickup will continue throughout the Yellow Phase," said Lopez. "We ask for patience and understanding during this time of transition. Please see our website for our new hours of service and additional information about curbside pick up."
Instructions for how to use curbside pickup are available via a link on their homepage: https://www.berkslibraries.org/branch/boyertown
Hamburg Public Library announced the reopening on its Facebook page.
“The Hamburg Public Library is happy to share that we will be opening for curbside pickup beginning on Monday, June 15, 2020! All patrons of the Berks County Library system will be limited to requesting (putting on hold) books and materials from their home library branch, at which they are currently registered,”
Hamburg Public Library also noted that the book drop remains closed.
“We will share more details as they are available, so please continue to check our Facebook page for updates.”
The Kutztown Community Library also made announcements online and in their e-newsletter.
“The Kutztown Community Library is committed to providing excellent service while keeping our patrons and staff safe. Decisions in our plan to reopen are based on CDC guidelines and the State recommendations,” Kutztown Library Director Janet Yost shared via the library’s e-newsletter. “We ask you to remain diligent in the Yellow Phase. We don't want fall down a step and land back into Red.”
Starting the week June 8, limited staff will be permitted back in the library wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Patrons can place holds on items located in the Kutztown Community Library. Van delivery from other libraries is temporarily suspended.
“Pick up your holds at our new Grab-and-Go station during special hours. You will receive a phone call to let you know when your order is ready for pick-up,” wrote Yost.
Returned items will be quarantined for a minimum of three days. Virtual programs will continue. Staff will prepare the facilities for the day when patrons can enter the library.
Schuylkill Valley Community Library answered Frequently Asked Questions via its e-newsletter.
“Our first step is to bring staff back in to prepare the library and undergo training on new procedures. We expect training and preparation to take about a week (June 8 -12).”
Beginning June 15, patrons will be able to make appointments to pick up items they have placed on hold using the online catalog.
“You will be able to place a hold on any item currently checked in at SVCL using the (catalog) link. Once we receive your hold request, we will contact you to arrange a time to pick up your items on a table outside the front door. This no-contact method ensures everyone stays safe.”
Limits will be put in place, such as 10 holds per adult account and 25 per juvenile account or homeschool account.
“So as to not overwhelm our staff with large requests and provide us with ample time to process a large number of requests quickly, there will be a change in the amount of holds available per account.”
All items currently checked out are now due on July 15. Once the library reopens, patrons will be able to return items in the book drop only.
Computers will not be available for public use at this time but the staff will be able to print and make copies on a case by case basis. Email at email@example.com.
“We know things may be confusing at first, but we’ll be here to help you through the process,” said Library staff in the e-newsletter announcement. “Please keep in mind that all of these procedures may take a bit longer than you are used to. We will do our best to meet your needs as quickly as possible. We’re all in this together.”
For more information about an individual library’s reopening procedure, visit www.berkslibraries.org or call their local library directly.