It’s a Lock: New System Boosts Holds Access

King County Library System among the first to use locker systems for safe holds pickups

The King County Library System (KCLS), continually searching for ways to serve residents amid a pandemic, has installed new state-of-the-art lockers to provide 24/7 access to books and other library materials.

KCLS is one of the first large library systems in the country to use the leading-edge technology, designed to give patrons another safe way to pick up their holds while libraries remain closed to indoor use due to COVID-19.

The lockers expand on KCLS’ Curbside to Go service, which also offers a safe way to pick up library holds during designated library hours.

KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum cut the ribbon at a socially distanced event for the new 90-locker system outside Bothell Library on October 28. A week later, a second 90-locker system was installed outside Covington Library, providing access to patrons in both the north and south ends of the county.

“Patrons can use them anytime¬-day or night!” Rosenblum said. “These lockers came all the way from Denmark (developed by Danish firm Lyngsoe Systems), and were made possible with funds from the KCLS Foundation. We are most grateful.”

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-1st Congressional District, attended the ribbon-cutting and praised KCLS for seeking creative solutions to coronavirus challenges.

“KCLS was already providing information and resources to King County residents in safe ways, which is incredibly important,” DelBene said. “Now KCLS is offering yet another example of innovation during these critical times; these locker systems are great, and with 24/7 access should see huge usage.”

In less than three weeks of service, patrons placed 1,148 items on hold for locker pickup at Bothell Library. In the first two weeks, there were 275 holds for Covington, which opened later.

To use the lockers, patrons just need a library card to designate their preferred pickup site when placing holds through the KCLS catalog. After receiving a confirmation that holds are ready, patrons have three days to collect their items. Scanning one’s library card opens the locker or lockers, in the case of multiple or bulkier materials. Check out lockers information.

A patron named Allison was among those who used the Bothell locker system during the first week. She returned a week later to collect a number of DVDs from two lockers.

“I like the DVDs, sci-fi, Anime; I like a lot of genres,” she said. “Lockers are the safest way to pick up books and movies during COVID. It’s really good to have this service. I think all the libraries should invest in it!”

With the pandemic’s duration unknown, KCLS is not counting out more lockers.
“Our service may look different these days,” Rosenblum said. “But we will continue to adapt to the changing needs of our diverse communities, and expand access to both our digital and physical materials.”