Libraries’ curbside service welcomed

Photos by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Renee Williams of Jasper picks up her books at the Jasper Public Library on Thursday. With no definitive date for when the library will be back to regular operations due to COVID-19, the Jasper-Dubois County Public Library began offering to-go services to pick up items on hold at all four branches. "It's easy, quick and convenient," Williams said. "I like it."


JASPER — When Felicia Cole of Jasper heard she could once again check out materials from the Jasper Public Library, she couldn’t wait.

Before the Jasper-Dubois County Public Library — which includes the Jasper, Dubois, Ferdinand and Birdseye libraries — closed due to COVID-19 in March, Cole made weekly trips to the library’s film section to check out movies and TV shows on DVD. When the library launched curbside pickup on May 4, Cole quickly requested her favorite TV show, Longmire, on DVD.

“I’m binge watching it again,” she said. “I’ve seen it probably 100 times.”

On Thursday afternoon, Cole stopped by to pick up a season she’d forgotten to check out last week. The DVDs sat on a table in the library’s entryway in a plastic bag with her name on it. When she arrived, she came in and grabbed the bag — one of about 15 on the table — and headed out.

A few minutes later, Jan Knies of Jasper stopped by to pick up a bag of books for her granddaughter, Stella. All four of Knies’s grandchildren — Stella and her brother Charlie and siblings David and Anna — all love to read, Knies said.

“They missed their library a lot,” she said.

David and Anna prefer e-books, Knies said, so the closure didn’t affect them quite as much as Stella and Charlie, who still prefer traditional books.

Now that her grandkids can check items out of the library again, Knies expects to be there a lot. This is the second week in a row her grandkids asked her to pick up items for them. She’s happy to do it and glad that the library’s staff is providing service any way they can.

Book orders sit on a table, ready to be picked up at the Jasper Public Library on Thursday.

“We know it’s a lot of extra work,” Knies said. “We really appreciate it.”

Most of that extra work comes in sanitizing items. Staff wipe each item down with disinfecting wipes before it goes in the bag for pickup, Library Experiences Manager Jordan Schuetter said. When the items are returned, they sit in quarantine for three days before being safely returned to the collection. So far, most of the materials circulating have been adult fiction, but Jenna Steltenpohl, youth programmer at the Ferdinand Branch, said more requests for children’s materials have started coming in.

Although not as busy as the Jasper Branch, staff at the Ferdinand and Dubois branches report having a handful of pickups each day. Curbside service is also available at the Birdseye Branch.

“People have been happy that we’re starting to open again,” said Katherine Frick, a library assistant at the Dubois Branch.

In addition to the curbside service, the Jasper, Dubois and Ferdinand libraries are also offering computer use by appointment and are providing document services such as copying, printing and faxing on a walk-up basis. Nick Sermersheim of Jasper took advantage of that service Thursday when he needed to send a fax. Although not an avid library user, he does depend on the Jasper library for document services.

“It’s very convenient when you need it,” he said. “I’m glad to see it’s open again.”

Huntingburg Public Library is also offering curbside service and document services.

To place items on hold or make appointments to use the computers, patrons should call their library. The Birdseye Branch can be reached at 812-389-1030; the Dubois Branch can be reached at 812-678-2548; the Ferdinand Branch can be reached at 812-367-1671; the Huntingburg Public Library can be reached at 812-683-2050; and the Jasper Public Library can be reached at 812-482-2712.

Plans to reopen the libraries are still under discussion. The Jasper Public Library and Dubois County Contractual Library boards met Thursday and set June 14 as the target date for reopening. That is subject to change depending on the COVID-19 case count in Dubois County and regulations set by local, state and federal officials. The Huntingburg Public Library Board will meet next week.

When the libraries do reopen to the public, Dubois County Contractual Library Director Christine Golden said the four libraries under her leadership will not immediately operate as they did prior to the closure. There will be a limit on how many patrons are allowed inside at a time, and patrons will be encouraged to keep their visits short.

“It’s going to be a lot more transactional rather than relational for a while,” Golden said.

For now, curbside service and computer use by appointment will continue, with the branches extending their hours to 7 p.m. beginning Monday.

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