North Carolina Libraries Almost Reopened Fully

North Carolina Libraries Almost Reopened Fully

As North Carolina extends its Phase 2 of reopening, its libraries have lost the chance to return to normal activities. But they have found small ways to bring community outreach and good books to their neighbors. What have they done so far?

Enter libraries’ curb side service. Just as restaurants have turned to on-the-go options to stay afloat in COVID-19, our public libraries have also used on-site delivery systems to do what they can. Let’s explore what North Carolina libraries can still do for you and your family.

Online Hold Requests for Libraries’ Books

You can still access your local library’s books. But instead of dropping by one afternoon and browsing away until dinner, you’ll complete a simple two-step process.

1. Login through the library’s site and place an online hold on the book(s) you want to read.

2. Wait on the library’s message that your hold is ready. Together these steps might take only a few days: a few minutes for your online hold, and up to a week for your library to contact you. The exact timeline will vary depending on the library, but like most other processes in COVID-19, flexibility will likely be the name of the game.

Drive-Through Library Pickup

Once your library has let you know that your hold is available, you can drop by for the curb side service with your library card. What should you expect?

Chapel Hill Public Library
Curb side library service at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Personal service from library staff and volunteers while you wait in your car – similar to many North Carolina businesses working to serve customers while not bringing them inside. How these curb-side pickups work will depend on the specific library. But libraries’ workers will maintain social distancing based on state guidelines (use of masks and gloves at least). These precautions extend to book donations, meaning that for now you can’t give any books to your library. However, it will accept your book returns as part of the curb side service.

Library members leaving the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Again, the exact curb side library service depends on the location. The Chapel Hill Public Library requires you to call a pick-up number once you arrive and doesn’t operate either Sunday or Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Greensboro Public Library offers its “Grab & Go Service” 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday but from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Saturday. On the other hand, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library allows one-customer-at-a-time browsing for books inside the buildings’ front entrances. Check out your nearest library to learn the specifics of their plans.

Libraries’ Online Programs

Just about every North Carolina library has offered online programs for both kids and adults since before their buildings closed to the public. They had already offered them before, but social distancing measures have made them that much more needed and robust. What do North Carolina libraries offer so far?

  • Summer reading plans for kids, teens and adults: your library might even give you a personalized reading list!
  • Writing contests for teenagers: 300 to 1,000 words of original writing, whether fiction or non-fiction!
  • Digital archives of local history: ever wanted to read The Wilmingston Star News from the 20th century? Thanks to the New Hanover County Public library, members now can.
  • Streaming local music: the Chapel Hill Public library has partnered with Tracks Music Library to offer commercial-free, local music finds for all listeners!
  • Virtual story times: if your kids have missed their libraries’ story hours, just drop by their website and browse. Many librarians have read new picture books aloud and uploaded the readings online, so that kids can enjoy the familiar pastime!

Return (Somewhat) to Your North Carolina Libraries

Library message in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Back before the extension of Phase 2, your libraries had prepared to restart in-person browsing, meetings and check-outs. You might begin to see those activities if Phase 3 begins around July 15, as the state has signaled it might. In the meantime, libraries have activities and service for you and your family.

Go by the library’s website, wherever you live, and see what they offer either online or in-person. What are the books you’d want to read this summer? What are the activities your kids can complete in July? Either answer depends on what you’ll find.

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