Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Mendon library gets new lockers

By William Kincaid

These lockers were installed at the Mendon branch of the Mercer County District. . .

MENDON - Library patrons can now pick up books, magazines, movies and other items any time of the day via new hold lockers at the entrance of the Mendon branch.
The Mercer County District Library and its branches also are gradually ramping up other services that were put on hold or scaled back amid the COVID-19 pandemic, director Elizabeth Muether reported.
Looking to maximize social distancing while opening up accessibility to items at the Mendon Branch, which has the most limited hours of all the branches, officials decided to add a 24-7 center. It was purchased and installed with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act dollars.
Librarians launched the hold lockers last month. The system consists of 16 lockers and a computer kiosk where patrons swipe their library cards to gain access to requested items.
Patrons can place items on hold on the library's website at mercerlibrary.org and select Mendon Lockers as the pickup location. The items, when ready, are placed in the lockers and a notification is sent to the patron's phone, email or text servicing. They then have seven days to retrieve their items at any time of the day.
"The limitation for when you normally pick up an item is you have to come in when we're open," she said. "So the book lockers essentially become an additional pickup location. When you select the place where you want to pick up your item, you would just choose the Mendon lockers."
Though available to all library patrons, the lockers are especially valuable to those who work second and third shifts.
"We have a lot of truck drivers, long-haul drivers who check out audiobooks and they work long hours and so it's not really convenient for them to make it in between our hours," Muether said.
If the lockers prove to be a hit, they may be added at other branches.
The lockers are a common sight at metropolitan and university libraries but local library officials were not able to afford buying them until CARES Act funds were made available, Muether said.
"All residents of the Mercer County District Library deserve easy access to our materials, regardless of where they live and when it fits into their busy schedules," Muether said. "This 24/7 access allows the library to continue to serve the community in this new contactless reality we find ourselves in."
The library and its branches in the early days of the pandemic were forced to cancel events, programs, class visits, outreach and all public group use of meeting rooms. Though library buildings were closed to the public, libraries continued to serve their communities with innovations such as curbside delivery of items.
"Libraries always tend to adapt and evolve and that's how we have always been able to continue to stay relevant," Muether said.
The library also transitioned to virtual events and grab-and-go activities and crafts for children and adults.
"In the last couple of months (we've) started. doing in-person programming again at all the locations on a limited basis," Muether said. "You have to register now ahead of time instead of just coming in every Tuesday and Thursday (storytime)."
Patrons are taking advantage of such services and item circulation is on the rise again, Muether said.
"Everyone is so relieved to be able to be back in the library and be able to use our computers without restriction," she said.
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