While the Pekin Public Library has offered virtual services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many patrons prefer books and library materials they can hold in their hands.

With that rationale in mind, the library’s staff has been working on a plan to safely offer curbside pick-up of materials. That service was rolled out Saturday.

“We invited a few customers who have had books on hold since March to come to the library and pick them up,” said Emily Lambe, Pekin Public Library public information and programming manager. “Our plan worked great, so we began advertising the service to the general public that afternoon.”

The library is offering books, audiobooks, magazines and DVDs for curbside pick up. However, the materials must be available at the Pekin library. “Inter-library loan has not yet been restored, so this service only applies to materials that we own,” Lambe explained.

To arrange for a curbside pick up, patrons can visit the library’s website and place holds on the items they want to check out.

When the items are available, the library will contact patrons by phone or via email. Designated pick up hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Patrons who are not sure how to place holds can contact the library for assistance.

“We are also offering a Readers Advisory service,” said Lambe. “Since our customers can't browse the shelves, they can call us during those designated hours, and tell us what types of books they like to read. Our librarians will then pull some books for them that fit their requests and then notify them when they can pick them up.”

According to Lambe, all returned library materials and placed in a three-day quarantine during which no one is allowed to touch them. They will then be checked in and returned to the shelves.

“We are following the protocol set by the American Library Association,” she said. “We ask the public not to try to disinfect the materials when they bring them home, since that would damage the materials.”

The public still apply for digital library cards through the library’s website to take advantage of digital and curbside delivery services, Lambe added. Library cards can also be renewed through the website. The due date on checked out library materials has been extended to June 12.