On Monday, May 11, Mid-Continent Public Library branches will begin accepting returns of previously checked-out items through their book drops. The drops have been closed since the Library shut its doors on March 16 to ensure the health and safety of customers and staff. Since that time, customers have been encouraged to use the Library’s vast collection of digital books and resources.

Beginning May 18, the Library will launch curbside service, allowing customers to pick up materials they have placed on hold (either online or over the phone). Customers are asked to call their branch before/when they arrive, and then stay in their vehicles (or maintain appropriate social distancing if they are not in a vehicle) as a Library staff member brings their materials to them. All other physical services remain suspended, and buildings will not be open to the public. Curbside service will end one hour prior to each branch’s normal closing time. Wi-Fi continues to be available outside of each of the Library’s 32 branches 24/7. Customers are asked to maintain social distancing while utilizing this service.

“We know these past few weeks haven’t been easy,” said MCPL Director and CEO Steven V. Potter. “While we’ve provided a lot of great service online and through digital delivery, we are anxious to get back to the business of serving our communities in person. However, the health and safety of our customers and staff remain our top priority. We need to ensure that we are operating as safely as possible. Because of this, we are taking a phased approach to resuming services at our physical locations, starting with curbside service. In the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor the recommendations of government and public health officials and plan for our next steps.”

During curbside service, all returns must be placed in the outdoor book drops. Returned items will be retrieved from the book drops and quarantined for 72 hours before being checked back into the Library’s collection. Due dates for previously checked-out items (prior to the March 16 closure) have been extended to June 1, 2020, and overdue fines will not accrue until July 1, 2020.

MCPL is receiving shipments of masks, gloves, and additional cleaning supplies for its staff and has also developed new safety procedures for receiving and lending materials as well as helping customers use resources. Staff are being trained on these new procedures as well as the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

A date has not yet been determined for adding more physical services and ultimately allowing customers back inside the buildings. Library leaders are developing a plan to reopen facilities based on the varying guidelines across its three-county district and will send an announcement as soon as this is finalized. More information about curbside service at MCPL can be found at mymcpl.org/COVID.