NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. --
Restaurants have been doing it for months. Now a handful of closed libraries are offering takeout, so members can have something new to read or watch at home.
"We really wanted to find a way to continue to connect the community with materials that were checked in and available on our shelves," said Sandi Burgess with the North Vancouver District Library. "It’s been very, very popular. Even before we launched, we had members of the community asking us when we're going to provide this service."
All North Vancouver libraries are now lending books and other materials to members who reserve specific items online or call ahead to a librarian.
"So they can say, hey my kid is really into dinosaurs. Great! Our children’s librarian will get 10 picture books of dinosaurs ready for their order," said Burgess.
The books are individually bagged, and a time is arranged for the member to pick them up. A staffer puts the bag on a table outside the main doors, and the borrower takes that bag home.
"We haven’t done a lot of broadcasting because there’s only so many orders that we have the capacity to fill, so we didn’t want to be too much victims of our own success," said Burgess. "But we are very confident now we have a good process in place and can meet the demand, so we will be advertising more broadly that the service is available."
It’s also available at public libraries Coquitlam.
"We know young people are desperately needing children’s material, adults are desperately needing just something other than what they were doing at home. They needed some kind of alternate recreation," said Todd Gnissios, the executive director of the Coquitlam Public Library. "We looked at the WorkSafe guidelines and thought we can do this safety for our staff, and safely for the public. So we implemented it as soon as we could."
The libraries in both cities place returned books into quarantine for 72 hours before they’re put back into rotation for another borrower.
"We wanted to be able to provide the service in a safe, socially responsible manner," said Burgess.
The takeout program will soon be expanding to Vancouver libraries, where it will begin to roll out by the end of the month.
"It’s a little bit more complicated in a bigger system. We have to make choices about where we will deliver a service," said Vancouver Public Library chief librarian Christina De Castell. "We will launch takeout services starting at our central library and four of our branches, and then we’ll expand from there. So we have to take a phased approach."
It could be weeks or months before libraries open their doors for in-person browsing and borrowing. So for cities that offer it? "Takeout! Order up, give us a call," said Burgess.