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Santa Barbara Public Library adapts to pandemic with sidewalk service

Santa Barbara Public Library
Blake DeVine/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Despite it’s doors being closed to the public since mid-March, the Santa Barbara Public Library has continued to serve its community throughout the pandemic.

Over the past few months, the demand for books has skyrocketed and staff members are busier than ever before.

“Every morning, we pull around 300 books to fill the holds that patrons are requesting,” Santa Barbara Public Library community relations librarian Jace Turner said.

Library cardholders can now walk up to the old main entrance on East Anapamu Street — which hadn’t been used in over 40 years — for a new sidewalk service.

This allows them to text or call-in their book orders in advance before picking them up in-person outside the library. 

Most people seem to appreciate the contactless pickup service.

“There having this texting system and it’s going well,” Goleta Valley Junior High School student Sagarika Manian said. “It’s less contact and hopefully helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

“We have an amazingly nibble crew here at the library,” local resident Anne Howard said. “They’ve been able to pivot and make this huge change.”

The library is also offering a Book Match service for children and teens, where a librarian will curate materials based on their interests.

“Soon as our doors closed, the first thing we started doing was providing access to book bundles,” Turner said.

“We can just pull ten, twenty, thirty books so that a family can have all the reading materials they need, Lisa Gonzalez said. “They don’t have to be coming back and forth to the library.”

Once a book is returned, it undergoes a 72-hour waiting period before being placed back on the shelf at the Santa Barbara Public Library.

“Once the books are dropped off, we wheel them over to a section of the library,” Turner said. “We just let them sit for a while.”

“We’re taking measures to make sure all the books are safe and they all get quarantined before they ever go back out,” Gonzalez said. 

As many remain stuck at home throughout the summer, these books are providing people with a much-needed distraction. 

“With all the things that we can’t do, reading is definitely one way that you can still escape your situation,” Gonzalez concluded. “It allows you to go somewhere new and do something exciting.”

Through Zoom appointments scheduled online, people can request Santa Barbara Public Library cards before picking up their newly issued cards during sidewalk service hours.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.


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