Many happy returns

St. Charles City-County Library District is now letting customers return books and is offering curbside service

By Brett Auten

The St. Charles City-County Library District is slowly – but safely – reopening its doors.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the district was sealed off, physically. But last week, book drops reopened for returns and beginning this week, customers will be able to pick up holds using its curbside/drive-up service. These services will be available at all St. Charles-City County Library locations with the exception of the Kathryn Linnemann Branch, which will remain temporarily closed due to recent flooding.

Book drops reopened last week although materials checked out before the library buildings closed are not due until July 6. Customers may return their borrowed books, music, and movies in book drops.

“It has been brisk,” Library Director Jason Kuhl said.  “A lot of people are eager to get these things out of the house.”

Materials will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are processed. Kuhl said that if you return items and notice that they are still on your library account after a few days, do not be concerned.

Starting Wednesday, June 3, customers can pick up the library materials they have placed on hold using drive-up or curbside services. Once customers are notified that their holds are available, they can come to their designated branch, and a staff member will deliver items to customers in their cars. The use of book drops for returns is encouraged in order to minimize contact.

Once you receive notifications that your holds are ready, call the branch or text 636-492-5018 at least 10 minutes ahead to request curbside pickup. When you arrive at your branch, pull into a designated curbside spot or the drive-up lane. Call or text the number on the sign and please remain in your vehicle. Have your photo ID or library card ready to show. (Staff will look at your card through the closed window). A staff member will bring your materials to your vehicle. Please let staff know if you would like materials put inside your vehicle (and where) or left outside your vehicle.

The library will encourage physical distancing and ask that customers continue to keep items that can only be returned inside of a branch until buildings reopen. This includes cake pans, WiFi hotspots, telescopes, and other items from the “Library of Things” catalog

Kuhl went on to say that while the library has diligently worked to serve customers remotely through the quarantine, it is grateful for their patient return to in-person services gradually happens.

“We are a unique industry in that we loan items out and people take these items into their homes and bring it back,” Kuhl said. “The public library has changed so much this last decade. It is not a sleepy place. There is a lot of activity going on. There are people who spend all day at the library. We have a unique set of circumstances and we felt we had to take action early on.”

There has been and will continue to be virtual story-time programs as well as author events and it recently launched its first St. Charles County Reads program.

The library is following the Center for Disease Control-recommended guidelines to sanitize materials. Customers are reminded to avoid cleaning books and other library items using liquid, heat, or other home-based techniques.

The St. Charles City-County Library has been working in conjunction with the leadership teams at St. Louis County Library and the Municipal Library Consortium to make coordinated decisions.

All St. Charles City-County Library branches continue to offer password-free WiFi that can be accessed from the parking lots.

BREAKOUT BOX

Curbside/drive-up hours for all locations except the Augusta and Boone’s Trail Branches are:
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday – Sunday: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Augusta and Boone’s Trail hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

CUTLINE: Submitted photos Library drop-off began last week for the St. Charles City-County Library and the Middendorf-Kredell branch was a busy place. All library branches are also offering free Wi-Fi in its parking lots.