The Kern County Library system began a phased reopening of its services last week with its call center resuming operations since being paused due to COVID-19 concerns.
On June 15, the system’s seven libraries will begin offering curbside pick-up services. It will likely remain in effect throughout the summer, and in August the library will monitor state and local health guidelines to make its next move towards a partial or full reopening, according to Jasmin LoBasso, the library’s marketing division.
“The nature of the library is that it encourages gathering and congregating,” she said. "We want to make sure the library remains a safe environment and in August we will see what will be the best route for our system.”
Curbside pick-up services will offer items such as grab bags and grab-and-go lunches, and may potentially expand offerings. Grab bags will contain either specifically-requested items or a librarian can choose a few books from someone’s preferred genre, according to LoBasso.
“If I call into the call center and want a specific genre — like science fiction, I love Sci-Fi — our staff will go through three-to-five titles and put it into a grab bag and give it to people,” LoBasso said.
LoBasso said grab-and-go lunches will only be available at library branches in Arvin, Bakersfield's Beale Memorial, Delano, Ridgecrest and Taft.
The library’s call center reopened Monday and gives people an opportunity to check their accounts and see where their holds are. Callers can also learn the status of their library cards, obtain a digital library card and find answers to questions on possible collections on their account.
Community members can also use the call center to sign up for the summer reading challenge, which kicked off Monday.
“Every year the major element is to help reduce the learning loss. This year is more important because kids were sent home from school early,” LoBasso said. “A child will pick up a reading log and after a number of books/hours a child will get a free book.”
LoBasso said the program was simplified this year, as participants can either read 10 books or complete 10 hours of reading.
“Kids have been home more and reading is something that people have taken the time to invest as one of their hobbies,” she said.
With the library forced to close its doors at the guidance of local and state health departments, LoBasso said it made a large impact on the community.
“I think the largest impact is the access to public computers. Public computers are really important,” LoBasso said. “Our wifi will continue to be available and accessible in our parking lot 24-7.”
In order to address any health or safety concerns, LoBasso said once a book is returned it will go into an automatic three-day quarantine to be sanitized.