By: Michelle Poirier
All Georgina Public Library branches started curbside pickup programs during the second week of June, and residents are loving it.
“I’m extremely glad they’re offering this,” said Laura Fenton, who picks up her holds at the Keswick branch on Fridays.
“My kids are already reading, and my dad has old Sports Illustrated issues to keep him happy. The entire process was straightforward and easy from beginning to end.”
Joan Garnett, a Sutton resident, said the program was awesome, the Sutton branch was very well organized, and the staff were friendly.
Georgina Public Library has offered multiple online services since it shut its doors due to COVID-19. Still, for residents with no internet, slow internet speeds or who just prefer a physical book, the curbside pickup program is a great addition.
“We have received many positive responses from residents on social media, through email and over the phone; many Georgina residents are excited to start re-accessing physical library materials,” Val Stevens, Director of Library Services and CEO, said in an email to The Post.
“Reading on a screen is preferred by some and tolerated by many, but there are a significant number of people who have a strong preference for reading a physical book.”
Although some people prefer physical items, Georgina Public Library has seen an increased in the use of their online services during the pandemic.
“We saw soaring numbers for online cards, with more people registering for online cards in April than in all of 2019 combined,” she said.
According to Ms. Stevens, the use of online resources was up by more than 50 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Library staff have been doing what they can to help residents during the pandemic, including online monthly book clubs, reaching out by phone to patrons that relied on the library as their only social outing, extending expiration dates for a library card and halting library fines.
The staff chose not to rush the process when it was announced libraries could start curbside services. They spent six weeks planning the opening of curbside pickup, developing policies, safety measures, creating the schedule, all while continuing to run their online services, Ms. Stevens said.
The library branches now have safety measures in place to protect staff and residents from getting COVID-19.
Along with wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and regularly washing their hands, the staff will keep physical distance from each other and residents.
They have also implemented an increased sanitizing routine, given timeslots for curbside pickup to ensure minimal numbers of residents waiting, and added physical distancing indicators.
Borrowed items are placed in dropboxes, and staff wear gloves to transfer returned items to a holding area where the items will be isolated for 72 hours.
The program is available one day per week for each branch and alternating Saturdays.
Hours for weekdays are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays for the Pefferlaw Branch, Thursdays for the Sutton Branch, Fridays for the Keswick Branch.
Curbside pickup on Saturdays, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., alternates between branches: Keswick and Pefferlaw on June 27, Sutton on July 4, and Keswick and Pefferlaw on July 11.
Ms. Stevens said they would assess public demand for curbside pickup and staff capacity to determine if they can expand the service.
To place a hold on an item, you can call your branch or visit www.georginalibrary.ca