Calling All Books: Williamsburg Regional Library’s Book Drops Beginning to Reopen
Williamsburg Regional Library’s buildings may still be closed, but several of their book drops reopened for business this past week. WRL has extended due dates and asked everyone to hold on to their materials since March 13, the day the library closed. But with almost 40,000 physical materials currently checked out and at large in the community, the time has come to begin accepting some returns and safely reincorporating those items back into the collection. On Monday morning the library opened the book drops in both library buildings and library parking lots. In order to keep up the with volume of returns, those book drops will only remain unlocked from 9 a.m. on Mondays until 5 p.m. on Fridays, and the community book drops (located at Monticello Marketplace, the James City County Recreation Center, and the Government Complex on Mounts Bay Road) will remain closed at this time.
Staff is following the advice of experts and quarantining returns for 72 hours before further sorting and handling to make sure there are no lingering germs. Staff are also working on tagging the entire collection to prepare for a new self-checkout system that will limit face to face contact and waiting in line when the buildings reopen. “This is the first step to a gradual reopening,” said library director Betsy Fowler. “We need to get the materials back to flag the reserves people are waiting for. The funny part is that the library doesn’t have room for all of the books and items since there are always a large percentile checked out, so we are going to be squeezing them in everywhere like Lucy and Ethel working on the chocolate factory assembly line!” Though select book drops are now open and accepting returns, if patrons prefer not to venture out right now, that is not a problem. The library is continuing to extend due dates and waiving all fines until the buildings reopen.
In the meantime, digital materials have helped meet the community’s demand for books, movies, music, and magazines under stay-at-home orders. In April the library circulated 33,000 digital ebooks and magazines, downloadable audiobooks, and steaming movies. “For reference, that is almost as many checkouts as the normal monthly circulation of the Williamsburg Library,” said Fowler. “We’ve been happy to be able to offer digital materials during this time, and we’re gratified to see how popular they’ve been.” Please note that though library materials can be returned to the book drops, library staff asks that anyone with items they’d like to donate continue to hold on to those until the buildings reopen and the Friends of WRL are able to process them.
Press Release from the Williamsburg Regional Library