CHESTERTOWN — Ongoing pandemic in mind, the Kent County Public Library is turning to a new page in its method of delivering books to the community.
Starting Monday, Aug. 3, the Chestertown branch of the library will offer its new Library To Go service where the community can, without contact, pick up and return library materials — books, DVDs, puzzles, board games, etc.
To use the Library To Go service, visit kentcountylibrary.org and click on Library To Go or call 410-778-3636.
Library To Go operates almost the same as checking out a book or any other materials from the library only instead of browsing the stacks for a book, an online platform is replacing bookshelves.
To use Library To Go, first request the materials you want to check out, wait for confirmation that those materials are ready to pick up, schedule a Library To Go appointment and then arrive at the appointment time and pick up the materials.
The pickup location in the parking lot entrance off Calvert Street. You will be asked to confirm your identity by giving your name and library card number or name, address and birthday. Patrons of the library are asked to wear a mask when picking up items and maintain 6 feet from others while using Library To Go.
The Chestertown branch is open for Library To Go on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Wednesdays the library is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Annie Woodall, public services librarian, said in a telephone interview Tuesday, July 28 that Library To Go will likely not be offered at the Rock Hall branch or North County branch in Galena due to the smaller size of those spaces making it difficult to practice social distancing.
Once material requests are ready for pickup, depending on library account setting, you will receive a phone call, email or text message saying items are available. Notifications will include additional instructions on how to pick up items. To update your contact information, call 410-778-3636.
Starting July 20, staff began calling patrons who had books or any other materials on hold since before Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order. Then on July 27, the book drop at the Chestertown branch was unlocked so people could return any items they checked out before the stay at home order. The library is now open for book or any other library material reservation, though people will not be able to pick up those items until Monday, Aug. 3.
All fines for late returns were suspended on March 16. Any books checked out before then are now due by Friday, July 31. Those unable to return books before that date should call the library at 410-778-3636. All books must be returned to the Chestertown branch.
When borrowing anything from the library, people do not need to clean the materials before returning them.
“Library staff are following strict guidelines for hand washing, materials handling, and use of a quarantine room. Every measure has been taken to protect your health before items are checked out to you,” a news release from the library states.
All books and other materials will be quarantined for seven days after being returned to the library. All staff are required to wear masks and to follow specific protocol when handling materials.
For those who do choose to clean a borrowed book or any other materials, they should use sanitizing wipes on plastic covers of books and on DVD or CD cases. Disinfectants like sprays can damage covers, pages and discs.
While the library is prioritizing safe, contactless delivery of books to the community, Executive Director Jackie Adams said in a statement staff are balancing the excitement of Library To Go as a service to help the public while also missing having people in the physical library buildings.
“We miss the public. We are so excited that Library To Go is starting to happen, because public service is our service and our function,” Adams wrote. “We are excited as we are planning for the future and figuring out what serving the public is going to look like.”
Adams also said budget cuts are a concern going forward that will impact what the library is able to do and how it is able to proceed in the future.
The Chestertown branch of the library’s ongoing redesign was able to go ahead, in part, because Friends of the Library and the Foundation were able to offer funds.