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Library to offer curbside pick-up June 1

Porch delivery for homebound on Fridays
Library Director Kris Brown and her staff are working to begin curbside pick-up on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 3-6 p.m beginning June 4. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– After Gov. Kim Reynolds announced libraries could reopen Friday, May 15, the Solon Public Library received lots of calls from patrons expecting quick access.
But the library’s benchmark for phasing in services was a 14-day COVID-19 downward trend in both Johnson and Linn counties.
Staff didn’t feel comfortable reopening quite yet, noted Library Director Kris Brown, especially with Linn County’s numbers.
“So we’re starting slowly with curbside,” she said.
Beginning Thursday, June 4, the library will begin no-contact, curbside pick-up times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 3-6 p.m. to fulfill online reservations.
Patrons can make reservations using the library’s online catalog or by call 319-624-2678 to make requests over the phone. Staff will gather materials, limited to five items per card, and call when the order is ready.
The library will also institute a porch delivery service on Fridays for people who don’t want to travel or are unable to leave their homes due to physical limitations or increased risk factors.
Residents seeking delivery should call the library to request items and will also be limited to five items at a time.
The check-out times for both curbside and delivery will be the same, Brown reported: books and audios for three weeks and DVDs for one week.
While the library has abolished fines, it’s appreciated if materials are returned on time.
Library staff will disinfect materials by letting them sit at least 24 hours before being wiped down with sanitizing wipes.
No puzzles, activity packs, puppets or magazines will be available.
The library building will remain closed to the public.
While libraries have been cleared to open, Brown said, none in Johnson County feel now is the right time to do so.
Because Solon has significant portions of its population working in both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, the library has taken a cautious approach to ensure the safety of staff and the public, she explained.
“But curbside is close,” she added.
It’s been over two months since most of Iowa’s public facilities were closed to the public, and like area school districts, libraries were forced to quickly adopt a new model for delivering content to readers.
“I remember how difficult it was to rethink what we were doing and make sure everybody was still working, but working in a different location,” Brown explained. “I think we were so focused on ‘What kind of services can we still provide?’ That absorbed everything.”
As many programs as possible were moved online.
“Luckily we have people who are really adept at using the social media we have,” Brown said.
The library’s Story Time and Babygarten programs converted to a virtual setting while still retaining their original format.
“We got a lot of good feedback in that it just seemed like you were having Story time in your living room,” she noted. “That was comforting to people, I think, with little ones.”
The Solon Area Book Club migrated online for a monthly meeting and the library has been offering practice sessions for those unfamiliar with Zoom meetings.
The Zoom sessions proved popular, Brown said, although interest is tapering off as people become a little more comfortable with virtual meetings. In-home childcare providers have used the video service to stay connected with their kids and provide some educational experience, she added.
The Do-It-Yourself Pinterest Party nights haven’t made it to the small screen yet, Brown noted, but Adult Services Coordinator Alexis Kurth has recently started a cooking club, and is trying to establish more of a virtual presence.
The Solon library has also enhanced its existing online resources in response to COVID-19.
Tumblebooks, which offers an online catalog of children’s books, allowed access to its audio and ebook collection for all ages through August to subscribers like the library at no charge.
A new addition is Kanopy, an online streaming service providing instant access to critically acclaimed movies.
Library patrons can log in to Kanopy with their library card number and password, similar to Bridges, and watch five movies per card per month.
Brown said it took a while to set up, and she’ll be interested to hear feedback regarding the online movie option.
Libraries across Johnson County and the state have also been communicating during the crisis, she said.
The State Library of Iowa conducts weekly “Crisis Conversations,” webinars with a weekly topic such as setting up temporary policies and establishing clear guidelines for when buildings open.
Bi-weekly webinars have been targeting those who planning Summer Reading Programs because the changes are so significant, Brown noted.
“So a lot of it is not only a time to talk to other libraries about what they’re doing, but it’s also support, and it gives you a chance to pull in a lot of different ideas and see what works for you,” she noted.
Everything will be online for Solon’s Summer Reading Program, although the library will still offer a paper version for those with no Internet resources. Those hard copy logs can be turned in and library staff will log them into a computer.
The Summer Reading Program will kick off June 1 and the library will send out a mass mailing with information, Brown said.
“The only drawback is we won’t be able to see people as often to kind of share the excitement in a Summer Reading Program,” she added.
Residents can’t gather together in large groups, so there will be no kickoff party and no Family Night entertainment.
“It’s going to be very different,” she predicted.
Other traditional library services will also likely fall victim to the COVID-19 crisis once summer is over, Brown noted.
There won’t be early-out programming, she noted.
“And we will be limiting the number of people in the building at any one time when we get to that point,” she said. “So that’s going to be interesting and it’ll be a challenge.”
The library is working on a benchmark for phase three, she noted, opening the library on a limited basis.
“I have no idea when the meeting room will be available for anyone to use, but if it is, it’ll be for 10 people or under,” Brown added.
The City of Solon has been very supportive, providing cleaning materials, as well as plexiglass shields for circulation desk.
The library and city have a good partnership, she said, keeping each other informed of scheduled openings.
Brown said users have been posting comments about missing the library. The library appreciate patrons being patient.
“We miss them, too,” she said. “So we know we’re appreciated. It’ll be good to get back to some kind of normal activity, so you can talk to people. Find out how they’re doing.”
Visit the library website at solon.lib.ia.us for details.