Browsing by appointment popular at West Liberty Library

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Almost exactly 10 months after they closed their doors to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Liberty Public Library devised a new way to allow patrons back in while keeping the community safe. Beginning Jan. 17, the library began allowing area residents to schedule private browsing times by appointment only. In the program’s first month, it has proved popular.

Through this program, people may now register for a half hour time slot to browse the library’s collection privately. Anyone interested in visiting the West Liberty Public Library in person can reserve a time by calling the library at 319-627-2084, emailing [email protected], or registering through the library’s recently created signup webpage. The library currently offers appointments on the hour Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Those who sign up may then peruse the library’s wide selection of books and movies. Currently, patrons may only access the top floor of the library. In order to make sure children can still find materials they will enjoy, staff have brought a large portion of the children’s collection upstairs to accommodate them.

In its first month, browsing by appointment has attracted many West Liberty community members. According to Public Service Manager Jacob Lane: “We have had patrons visit the library nearly every day since we reopened for browsing. We average around six visitors a day, sometimes whole families. The public has been happy to be back in the library, and we have been equally happy to see them and serve them again.”

Browsing by appointment also allows people to access several other vital services and to get one on one help from library staff in person. “Patrons can check out a Chromebook or desktop during their appointment, or ask questions about how to use many of the features on our website, including Bridges and Brainfuse; if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.” emphasized Lane.

Along with their more recently added browsing by appointment, the West Liberty Public Library continues to offer its contactless pickup program. If anyone would like to get library materials without going inside the library, they may choose what they would like from the online catalog and then call the library to reserve it. They may then collect their bag of materials from the library entryway. People may also access print and fax services in the entryway as well.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the West Liberty Public Library plans to keep their assortment of online reading groups up and running. Young readers can enjoy weekly story times (which includes bilingual books at least once a month) and short Five Minute Friday crafts with Youth Services Manager Lily Smith either on Youtube or Facebook. For adult readers, the Page Turners, a book club focused on recent fiction titles, and Booked on Crime, a group that reads crime and detective novels, continue to meet regularly through video chats.

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