Waiting to pick out a good book or movie? The Homewood Public Library will begin curbside service Monday, June 1, giving patrons a chance to get items from the library’s collection at 17917 Dixie Highway.
This is in addition to the electronic resources, including e-books, audiobooks, databases and video, movie and television streaming resources that have been available through the library’s website since the building closed March 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so grateful for all of (our patrons), and glad to be starting to offer more than our free books and seed carts,” said Colleen Waltman, the library’s director.
In this new phase of service, the first step is reserving materials in the library’s catalog. With that information, staff will begin the process of retrieving, verifying library information and getting books ready for pick up.
“Placing holds in the catalog online is really the best way to go,” she explained. Patrons can file requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week at homewoodlibrary.org. Patrons needing assistance can call the library at 708-798-0121, extension 216 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday starting June 1, or send an email with questions to [email protected]. Put the word “holds” in the subject line.
Waltman said at this time there is no limit on the number of materials that can be checked out. Patrons who had materials on hold when the library closed in March will be the first recipients of the curbside pick up.
Once the request is processed, patrons will receive a notice that the items are ready for pick up. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We will be using a product called ‘curbside communicator’ provided to us at no charge through SWAN, our library consortium,” Waltman said. “Patrons will pull up and text a number letting staff know which of three curbside spaces they are in, their last name, their library card number and the means by which they placed the hold — phone, online or email.”
For patrons not able to file a text message, a phone number will be posted. A staff member will come out with the materials and place them in the car's trunk or back seat.
“The focus is on safety and contactless service,” Waltman said, stressing that precautions are being taken to insure safety for both staff and patrons. The Friends of the Homewood Library helped underwrite the expense of acquiring the necessary personal protective equipment for staff.
“We will be unable to provide walk-up service, at least initially. This is new for all of us and the procedures will be adjusted as needed,” she said.
According to Waltman, the library’s staff has been working through the closure ordering materials, conducting virtual programming and book clubs, adding to the electronic and virtual resources and revamping summer reading plans.
And special attention is paid to the care of returned materials. Waltman said when the book return was opened in the first eight hours patrons returned items that belonged to 55 libraries in the SWAN network.
“These items were quarantined and processed and organized. Homewood library books were also quarantined and then shelved so they can be available for our patrons as we start curbside pick up. So all of these tasks take time and staff,” she pointed out.
As the library moves to Phase 3 of the “Restore Illinois” plan, more staff will be allowed into the building to start making the necessary changes to space arrangements, including rearranging stacks, setting up barriers at public desks and installing contactless self-check equipment. A date to reopen the library has not been determined.
While members of the Friends of the Homewood Library haven’t been allowed into the building, the group’s cart of free books is available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the library entrance.