Work may look a little different, but it carries on at the Metropolis Public Library.
The library shut its doors at closing time on March 16, going into a COVD-19 lockdown until May 18.
Since that time, the library continues to provide services to its patrons with contactless curbside service to acquire the books, movies and other items on loan.
The curbside service “has been going really well. We have not had any issues or hiccups,” said library director Lori Bruce. “People are just thrilled to be able to have access to the books, especially with a lot of people being home and especially with a lot of the older patrons being shut-in. It really gives them something to do to pass time.”
For the month of December, the library’s hours, including curbside service hours, are being changed to 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. “December is so hectic and busy, we’ve decided to decrease our Tuesday hours at this time,” Bruce explained.
She noted that for the library’s shut-in patrons “if they absolutely cannot get out, we take books to them. They can call us, and we can leave them at their doorstep and let them know they’re there, so it’s still contactless.”
Just as with coming into the library, the curbside provides access many library items. Along with books at the Metropolis library, patrons can also access items through its system which has access to over 400 libraries. “They had stopped that for a while, but as of now, it’s still going. But we never know when they will stop that” due to COVID, Bruce said.
Patrons make a request either by calling the library — 524-4312 — or going to its website www.metropolispubliclibrary.com — and clicking on the “Share” link box on the right of the page.
“You can place a hold on any item you want,” Bruce explained. “Once we have those items ready, we call you. Once you get here, you call us, and we bring those out and place them in your trunk.”
A library card is required to use the website in making a loan request. The library has just started taking the contact information needed for the card over the phone. “We still have to have proof of residency and ID,” which can be provided when items are picked up. “We can do a driver’s license, an ID card, a passport, anything with a picture, plus something that’s been mailed to their correct address,” Bruce explained.
Patrons have two choices in how they return books. They can place them in the library’s drop box, or have them in their trunk to be swapped out for new books on their next visit.
Once books are returned, they are sanitized before being re-shelved. They go into a lidded quarantine tote located downstairs, they’re sprayed with Lysol, left for seven days, then put on a cart to be brought back upstairs and be re-shelved.
Donations assist with library purchasesOver the last several weeks, the Metropolis Public Library has received several forms of funding to aid with various needs of the library.
One of the first came after a training exercise when the Metropolis Fire Department recommended the library install a Knox Box, an exterior wall-mounted safe that holds building keys for fire departments, emergency medical services and police to retrieve in emergency situations.
“Only the fire department has the key where they can access the Knox Box, which gives the access to the business key without having to break down a door or break in a window. It’s easier and faster access in case of a fire,” Bruce explained. “Our front door is older and worth a lot of money; they wouldn’t have to bust that down if we had a Knox Box.”
Bruce also asked fire department officials about the library’s defibrillator, which wasn’t working properly as the pads and battery needed to be replaced.
“At the next board meeting, we decided to ask Vistra for a $500 donation toward those items,” Bruce said.
A few weeks later, Vistra, known locally as Electric Energy, Inc. (EEI), provided the $500 donation for the defibrillator’s new pads and battery and also for the Knox Box purchase.
Not long afterward, Bruce learned the library received two grants funded through the CARES Act provided to the Illinois Public Libraries. The first was $497 for Personal Protection Equipment to cover face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, two acrylic barriers for the front desk and two plastic keyboard covers. The second was $658 for digital network access, which provides an outdoor router to assist libraries in extending educational methods during COVID.
“These were the first grants I’ve ever applied for,” Bruce said. “I was absolutely floored we received them.”
Most recently, the library received a $250 donation from Legence Bank and a $500 donation from Banterra Bank for children’s, junior and young adult books.
“We’re working with the schools’ librarians who have provided lists to enhance our series,” Bruce said. “They’ve sent handwritten lists of books studetns in this area have an interest in. We want to order items they want to read and provide the opportunity to loan them from the library.”