Bringing the library home, post COVID-19

Library offers mail service, vending machines to keep patrons well-read

Kathleen Dunlap
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 9/21/20

Jefferson County library officials have been dreaming up better ways to get services to customers ever since COVID-19 started shutting things down, according to Grayson Stamm, supervisor of patron …

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Bringing the library home, post COVID-19

Library offers mail service, vending machines to keep patrons well-read

Posted

Jefferson County library officials have been dreaming up better ways to get services to customers ever since COVID-19 started shutting things down, according to Grayson Stamm, supervisor of patron experience.

“The pandemic acutely affected our patrons,” Stamm said. “Our team tried to be ahead of the curve, but ultimately, the world stopped.”

Stamm said his team refused came up with some innovative ways to boost service to customers, including dropping off books to their homes or sending them through the mail, all part of the county’s Library to You services.

“Our big motto has always been: change and adapt,” Stamm said.

The Jefferson County Public Library closed its buildings for quarantine due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. The shutdown included the Library to You services, a staple supply chain of books, magazines, and other materials to Westminster residents.

Jefferson County’s Library to You program has stretched the boundaries of library buildings to meet evolving needs. First, it launched the Bookmobile, which visited group homes, assisted living facilities, and independent senior living communities. Later, the county added the volunteer-led Home Services Delivery program.

“The volunteers became the big battery,” Stamm said. “They powered the whole Home Services program, putting in 100 hours per month, serving 270 home-bound people.”

Since COVID-19 started, Stamm said his goal has been to find ways to protect both the home-bound library patrons and faithful volunteers when the library began re-opened branches in May. They wanted to limit exposure to the virus to these vulnerable populations. The team contacted the facilities where the Bookmobile formerly traveled to arrange drop-off of books at front doors or with receptionists.

Individuals who previously received a Home Services in-person delivery from a volunteer could now sign up for delivery via the mail.

“We can send eight to ten items via the Post Office,” Stamm said. “Many of our patrons immediately signed up for this option.”

Library staff has also extended due dates, offered curbside pickup and quarantined returned materials to mitigate the risk of virus spread. Now, they are spreading the word about other options the Library has available.

One option for patrons is the Library’s “holds” locker, a concept like Amazon’s package pick up option. A patron can order books and materials from the Library’s website and have them set aside in a locker. Patrons are directed where to go, they scan their library card and checks out their items. No contact necessary. Some library locations also offer a vending machine for books, CDs, and DVDs that let patrons swipe their library card to get their materials.

Stamm continues to partner with the technology team to facilitate even more engagement via the library’s website.

“We already offer storytimes and other gatherings in a virtual setting,” Stamm said. “These have been really popular. Innovations will continue, regardless of the status of public health concerns.”

To find out more about the resources offered through Library to You, visit: https://jeffcolibrary.org/library-2-you/

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