Starting next Monday, the Madison Public Library will begin offering curbside pick-up. Madison residents with a valid library card will be able to place holds on materials online and then pick up their holds without leaving their car.
The curbside pick-up is one of the first steps the library system has taken towards reopening. Earlier this month, the library restarted its reference assistance and internet access information phone lines.
Now, the Madison Public Library is deciding how it will handle reopening facilities to the general public, says Tana Elias, Digital Services and Marketing Manager for Madison Public Library. She says the library is following the Governor’s Badger Bounceback Plan, but they’re uncertain about how to enact the policies laid out in the plan.
“We are planning for what it looks like when we’re in Phase One, where you can, for example, do some additional activities and you can have groups of no more than nine. We’re really working to get clarification on what a group is. Does that mean no more than nine people can be in a building? In which case we really can’t open some of our smaller libraries,” she says. “So we’re working through a bunch of different scenarios and trying to plan for what that looks like and it may be different from library to library, depending on the size of the library and the layout of the library.”
Currently, public libraries aren’t allowed to transfer books between branches. That means any material checked out using the curbside pick-up must be from the library you’re picking up from.
The decision has also created a logistical problem, says Elias. Any returned materials can pile up at a single branch. Without the ability to transfer the books, the pile-up can cause shortages at other libraries in the city’s network.
The issue is just one reason the Madison Public Library has chosen to temporarily extend the return date of all materials to July 1st.
“We have a couple of different issues with accepting returns. One, of course, is the fact that other people are touching the materials and they’re sort of mixing together in the book drop. The other concern is that because there is no delivery service, some of our smaller libraries will just have stacks of material and we won’t be able to move them out of the building.”
Since the closure of the libraries in March, Madison Public Library has transitioned most of their operations online. Margie Navarre Saaf is Madison Public Library’s Borrower Services Manager. She says there have been pros and cons adapting to the new normal.
“On the one hand it’s nice being home with my two beagles, they’re loving it,” she says. “But, on the other hand, the hardest part has been not being able to have face-to-face interactions with the staff and the members of the public. That’s really kind of where we get our feedback and I really miss that. And again we have fantastic staff, so I miss seeing them in-person as well. Although we have gotten very adept at using Zoom meetings.”
Laura Damon-Moore, a Community Engagement Librarian with the Madison Public Library, says she’s also faced some unique challenges while working from home.
“Well, it’s been interesting. My household includes myself and two other people, one of whom is a four and a half year old preschooler. She’s home from preschool right now and luckily we don’t have to do some of the same homeschooling with her that some older kiddos might be doing. It’s mostly switching off between myself and my partner, keeping her occupied and trying to allow each other to get work done in between childcare responsibilities,” she says.
The curbside pickup service will be available at every Madison library except Alicia Ashman Library, which is currently undergoing renovations. The libraries will be running the service from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
(Photo c/o WORT News)