Curbside: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Libraries

Yes, we know other libraries are beginning to offer curbside. Yes, we know you are anxious to get your hands on new library materials. Yes, we know you want to return everything you checked out in March.

Do we want to offer curbside? Yes. Do we want to be able to open our book returns? Yes. Do we want to give you access to our computers, our copier and our fax machine? Yes. Do we miss you? Yes, yes, one thousand times yes!

As some libraries begin to offer curbside service, we want you to know some of our thoughts regarding why we are not in a position to offer curbside service at this time.

  • We are abiding by the Governor’s stay-at-home order.
  • We are not an “essential” service according to the Governor’s executive orders. Other libraries offering curbside are considered “essential government services” for a variety of reasons. For instance, they might be part of a City government that has deemed them essential. Warrenville Library’s Board of Trustees will discuss essential library services at its May 20, 2020 meeting. You are welcome to submit comments and listen to the meeting. View the meeting agenda and information packet. The agenda includes instructions for submitting public comment and accessing the meeting.
  • We do not have sufficient PPE (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant) to ensure the safety of our staff and our cardholders. We are purchasing what we can as it becomes available. We did not purchase these supplies earlier because we did not want to compete with hospitals, health care facilities and first responders who desperately needed these items in the initial weeks of pandemic response.
  • We are monitoring information from a research collaboration that will inform us of best recommended practices to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the delivery or use of library materials. Initially other sources advised us a 24-hour quarantine of library materials was sufficient. Then we heard three days. The most recent information suggests seven days. As you know, information is changing rapidly. We are doing our best to keep up. Just when we think we have a plan, something changes and we have to go back to the drawing board. Learn more about the study
  • The decisions we make are as much about the health of our community as they are about the health of our staff. Retail stores and restaurants were given the go-ahead to do curbside pickup with specific guidance from the State of Illinois. Unlike retail stores and restaurants that have one-way transactions (you pick it up, you take it home), libraries have two-way transactions (you pick it up, you take it home, you bring it back … and then we send that material out to someone else). Because we circulate materials to many individuals and families, we are being especially cautious as we consider curbside options. We have no specific guidance from the State about the precautions needed to resume library services.
  • We have fewer than 30 employees. More than half of our employees are at higher risk for serious illness if infected by the virus. We want to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of exposure.

We understand you have questions why the Warrenville Library is not offering curbside service. Different libraries have different resources and make decisions based on many factors that are unique to their organizations and communities. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. We are in constant contact with neighboring libraries and we are learning from their experiences. We are planning to offer curbside service beginning sometime in June – but only if we are confident we can do so safely. As much as we would like to offer curbside service, we are not yet in a position to do so. When we are ready, you will know and we will celebrate that milestone together!

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Sandy Whitmer

About Sandy Whitmer

Sandy joined the library staff as Director in 2006. What does she enjoy most about working in a library? "Libraries have something to offer everyone – they can make a difference in the lives of individuals and can contribute to the well-being of the communities they serve." She enjoys nonfiction, funny memoirs and sometimes escapes reality through chick lit. Her commute makes audiobooks a necessity. Her favorite place to read is outside – any shady porch, sunny backyard or sandy beach will do.

19 thoughts on “Curbside: Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Libraries

  1. thanks Sandy. Well thought out response.
    Safety and the health of everyone, staff and the public, should be the top priority.

  2. This was a very clear explanation. I had wondered about the curbside library for Warrenville and this explained why it is not offered at this time. I agree that the protective equipment was so needed by the medical professionals first. I also appreciate your thinking of the health of your employees and clients.

  3. Thank you for the information, Sandy! Yes, we ALL miss our Warrenville library staff and services, but I completely understand your stance. Your communication is very much appreciated. Hope you all are safe and sound!

  4. Thanks for the link to the study. The 2-way aspect of library borrowing does indeed offer more complications than shopping or takeout food. By all means, take the time you need to create a safe process. I miss going to the libraries, but I value my health, and that of all the library staff. Online options exist, as do the books on my shelves at home.

  5. As other have commented this is a comprehensive and thoughtful response – and you are doing everything right – using the right sources, guidance, other libraries’ experiences and situations. Frankly, finding the necessary PPE is still impossible, in my experience! Thank you for your efforts and those of all staff. Be well.

  6. Thank you for putting everyone’s safety first. As a library user, I completely understand! I appreciate the thorough explanation:)

  7. Thanks Sandy for clarification. Most times other’s don’t understand the full impact of offering something that everyone else is offering. I appreciate your transparency to specify reasoning why Warrenville, is not on board with others as “One-Size, doesn’t Fit-all.” My sister works for DuPage County Sherriff’s Department and my mother’s a retired Librarian of Honeywell, so I get it! Looking forward to updates in the future. Stay safe, and continue the good works.

  8. Hi, Sandy,
    Thanks for your explanation. Two Brothers was selling hand sanitizer from their brewery. That might be a local source for you.

  9. Thank you Sandy. I hope you have heard the latest news released today that the CDC now says coronavirus does not spread easily via contaminated surfaces. Hoping this will give staff some comfort.

  10. Thank you so much for articulating your concerns so clearly. I must add how awesome it feels living in a community which VALUES their library so much! We all love you, your services, and anxiously await your return, but only when it is safe to do so. You’re part of the heart of Warrenville! Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the explanation. I do not envy your position of sifting through all of the research, but I do trust that you have your employees and our whole community at heart when you make those decisions. Thank you for all you do, we will be excited to come back to the library when allowed.

  12. Thank you for this well thought out response and for reading studies to guide your decisions. It makes me glad when both our public employees and the public are being taken care of. We appreciate you and the library team.

  13. Sandy, Sometimes the best action is seeming inaction. And sometimes I forget that these issues are still life and death . I am so glad that you are being responsible and moderate about restoring Library services. I can trust your judgment, good sense, and wisdom.. You are looking out for us .

    Thank You

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