July has been a very busy month for the King County Library System, as we significantly expanded services allowed under Phase 2 guidelines, including our contact-free Curbside to Go service that began July 1 at 17 libraries.
While our buildings remain closed due to COVID-19 health protocols, the areas outside our libraries have been hopping.
“We missed you!” has been a recurring comment from eager patrons flocking back to libraries for Curbside to Go service, returning items at re-opened book drops and picking up materials that have been on hold since we closed in March.
We’ve missed you, too! It has been exciting for staff to see so many familiar faces, albeit through masks and six-feet away!
Among those who have used Curbside to Go is Congresswoman Kim Schrier, who recently visited the Sammamish Library with her son. Like other patrons, she picked up her holds from special tables outside the library, and her son took home a surprise bag of five books specially selected for a teen reader.
On July 15, KCLS reactivated patrons’ ability to request holds and in just the first week, nearly 138,000 new holds were placed. As we manage growing demand, Curbside to Go service will expand to a total of 41 libraries on August 5. Staff is working hard to process holds and returned items while adhering to safety protocols, which includes quarantining returned materials for 72 hours before they are checked in.
During this pandemic, KCLS is providing services in other ways as well. As Washington’s Safe Start Plan continues to unfold, KCLS is helping King County distribute 25 million cloth and disposable masks, and hand sanitizers, in an effort to provide communities with personal protective supplies as they enter new phases of re-opening. County officials determined local needs and coordinated with KCLS to identify eight library locations where representatives from more than 600 faith-based and community organizations could pick up supplies that will be further distributed to their respective communities.
This is a big undertaking, but a great example of a positive partnership to address a critical community need. As a project partner, KCLS gets to retain one million masks and an ample supply of hand sanitizer for staff and patrons to use once we reopen our buildings to the public.
Another partnership with the Washington State Broadband Office allowed KCLS to add parking lot hot spots at four library locations that patrons can access through KCLS’ standard wireless network. This important partner project seeks to bridge the digital divide and increase the public's access to free high-speed internet.
As we continue to explore new and important ways to provide services to King County residents during this challenging time, remember that KCLS is a 24-7 resource for online information and programming. And don’t forget about Summer Reading!
Stay healthy and stay connected with your library!