Barrie Public Library downtown to offer curbside pickup, not yet at Painswick

Library users in Barrie won't be able to access curbside pickup at least for a few more weeks

Library users in Barrie and Orillia will have to be patient before there is curbside pickup of books and other items that are in-house

The Ontario government announced May 14 that public libraries, which closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could start providing pickup and delivery of materials Tuesday as part of Stage 1 of its plan to reopen the economy.

Barrie Public Library CEO Lauren Jessop said she does not want to give a date when curbside pickup will begin, except the start is still a few weeks away.

Jessop said they are finalizing plans so everything is safe for staff and patrons before the service is launched.

The library is going through a risk assessment and will work closely with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, which has offered to review the plan and make any tweaks. The plan includes making sure staff has the right personal protective equipment. An order has been placed and Jessop said they are waiting for the stuff to arrive.

Initially, when curbside pickup and returns begin, this will only be available at the downtown library and not at the Painswick location in south Barrie.

“Pickup and return might be done at the front door area of the library. We will quarantine items that are dropped off. Stuff will sit before it is checked in.”

In-person events or programs will likely be virtual for the rest of the year.

Asked what Jessop thinks both libraries will look like when the doors can reopen to patrons, she gives herself a brief moment to develop a picture.

“We will limit the number of people gathering in the library for programming and make sure space allows for physical distancing. It’s going to be tricky.”

Jessop said she is working with colleagues across Canada to develop similar protocols, and will use the guidance from the health unit and from different levels of government.

The story is much the same at the Orillia Public Library.

CEO Suzanne Campbell hopes curbside pickup can begin in early June, though like her colleague in Barrie, they won’t be rushed into anything, with health and safety paramount.

“Books that are returned can’t be put on the shelves right away,” said Campbell. “They will have to be quarantined for at least 72 hours.”

The library has external book drops. Campbell said bins will likely have to be marked with the date of returns.

“Staff must have safe workspaces and proper distancing must also be worked out before curbside pickup can begin.”

Most of the virtual programming offered by the Orillia Public Library will remain for now.