Berkeley Public Library looks to offer curbside pickup for books, media

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Edwin Cho/File

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As a result of the updated shelter-in-place order, which went into effect June 5, libraries may now offer curbside pickup for books and other materials.

The Berkeley Public Library anticipates fully opening for curbside pickup by the end of June. In response to COVID-19, all Berkeley library facilities closed March 16, but the updates to the shelter-in-place order relaxed restrictions on allowed activities.

“Such decisions must be made on data around COVID-19, including trends on the number of cases in the area,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in an email. “We are now in a position to safely allow for curbside pickup of library books.”

During its closure, Berkeley Public Library encouraged the community to turn to digital resources and extended due dates so that all materials checked out would be due July 1 without late fees.

Residents who did not have library cards have been able to sign up for electronic library cards online and access e-books and audiobooks.

“The general consensus is that there is a lot available online,” said Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School PTA President Yael Galinson.

Arreguín also said many people are still looking forward to the curbside pickup service for the summer.

“Our community has been asking for our public libraries to reopen for some time,” Arreguín said in the email. “While the use of (online) services has risen significantly during the Shelter in Place, for many people having a physical book instead of an electronic one is preferred.”

The response from PTAs of local schools has also been positive, and members said they are eager to see how the pickup system will be implemented.

“It’s definitely an exciting development to have that resource open back up to the community, especially in a time where there’s much less choices in terms of activities and making reading all the more prominent,” said Scott Hofmeister, PTA treasurer at Emerson Elementary School.

Parents said they are eager for their children to have physical access to books during a period when many students’ learning time is spent looking at screens.

Willard Middle School PTA President Keith Nickolaus said the library should start reopening sooner and offer limited services instead of letting the demand for library resources build up.

“We’re already planning some books to pick up and watching the news for when pickup will start,” Nickolaus said.

Contact Catherine Hsu and Ruby Sutton at [email protected].