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Library opens for curb service

The Harvard Public Library began offering curbside services on Tuesday. Contactless pickup and drop-off are now available Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It may also be offered Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; however this is still being determined and may be affected by the Spring Town Meeting on June 20.

There are four ways to request an item. Cardholders can place a hold through the library’s online catalogue. This is no different than it was during regular operations. However, patrons can now also call the library’s main line, email reference@harvardpubliclibrary.org, or fill out an online form available on the library website.

Only items available at the Harvard library will be available, because the transportation system that typically shuttles resources among libraries in the central and western Massachusetts consortium (CW MARS) is not yet operational.

When a requested item becomes available, librarians will put it in a paper bag with the name of the recipient on it and the bag will be placed on a table outside the library’s front door. When the item is ready for pickup, the recipient will be notified by phone, email, or text. All items go out for three weeks and no late fines will be charged.

For those who do not have a particular item in mind, library staff will also help people select materials based on their preferred audience level, format, genre, and quantity. For this service, patrons can call, email, or fill out the online form provided on the library website.

When picking up or dropping off items, patrons are asked to remain in line in their vehicles until it is their turn, at which point they can claim their bag or place material for return on the book carts near the entrance. The library staff is asking everyone to wear masks and respect social distancing guidelines.

All items that were checked out prior to the library’s closing now have a due date of July 1 and no late fee. This extends to books that were already overdue as of March 16. If a patron has lost a book or other material, they are still expected to pay the item’s replacement cost.

All returned items will be quarantined for seven days before being returned to circulation. The library’s director, Mary Wilson, said that these measures may be relaxed as additional research regarding the longevity of the coronavirus on surfaces becomes available.

According to Wilson, all staff will be equipped with face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and disposable gowns for handling quarantined material.

“We have in place what we think is a very safe system,” said Wilson, adding that the staff has spent the past three weeks training and attending safety protocol webinars put on by the American Library Association.

Wilson recently started receiving phone calls from residents who were excited to have library services available again. “We hope it’s a happy occasion for everyone,” she said.

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