BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — After a lengthy period combing the shelves for eye-catching titles, it’s not uncommon to see library patrons walking out the doors carrying a stack of books and other materials.
With COVID-19 restrictions underway and virus cases on the rise, however, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library system has closed its doors, thus eliminating patrons’ ability to browse the many shelves of materials.
To accommodate patrons longing to settle in with a good book, movie or CD while still heeding stay-at-home recommendations, the library staff has implemented a service to do the browsing for you.
Book Bundles are offered for patrons who want a collection of new material and who don’t mind having library staff chose it for them. The bundles can range from five to 20 items and once filled will be checked out and available for safe pickup in the library lobby.
“We want to give our customers as close to a browsing experience of new materials or things on our shelves as we could,” said Maumee branch manager Allison Fiscus.
Book Bundles are a systemwide program that was implemented when the coronavirus first kept patrons from coming into buildings. The program is easy to use, as patrons simply fill out a form online or call their local branch to request a bundle of materials. By providing information about specific areas of interest, such as fiction, non-fiction, new release, history, historical fiction, cooking and much more, a staff librarian will put together a selection of items based on those likes and interests.
“With this service, we get to do the best part of our job and that is to look through the books that we have and use our expert knowledge of what’s out there to put a bundle together,” Fiscus said.
The bundles can include all materials, which means movies, music and books on CD. Magazines can also be requested and bundled, and the service can be done for all ages – so young adult and children’s bundles are also offered.
“If you have three different kids with three different tastes, let us know and we can liken it and tailor it to them,” Fiscus said. “We can do it for holiday materials, too, so if you are used to coming to the library to grab a stack of Christmas picture books, or if you are a Christmas fiction reader, we have a bunch of those as well.”
The Book Bundle is one of many services the library is currently offering to accommodate patrons in a safe manner. Individual requests are also offered for specific items and those are available through grab-and-go pickup, which means the library staff will have the items ready and prepped for pickup in the lobby. Limited building services are also available by appointment, including the use of computers, fax machines and the copier.
Decisions regarding Toledo Lucas County Public Library system operations during the pandemic are made in conjunction with guidance from the Lucas County Health Department. Since November 21, the library has been closed for public browsing services. This is the second time the Maumee Branch Library has shut down because of the pandemic.
“We’re really doing our best to be discerning about what we can do safely, so that we can remain as open as possible,” Fiscus said.