As a child and into adulthood, one of the greatest summertime travel experiences many have looked forward to comes from wandering the shelves of the local library to find the perfect book to launch into a grand adventure.
While those in person library journeys aren’t yet quite possible because of COVID-19, the Houston Public Library system begins offering the next best thing starting June 1, curbside services. Yes, taking a page from Houston restaurants, Houston Public Library System now offers takeout with HPL To Go.
Library card holders can order their new or old favorite books online and pick them up. This new system for checking out books, DVDs, audiobooks, and Flip Kits — as well as any other physical items currently available at any HPL To Go location — will feel a bit like ordering from your favorite restaurant this spring. While we will need to check the shelves virtually instead of coming in, library staff members will bring our book orders directly to our cars.
For those who ever put a hold on a book or electronic item, the HPL To Go system will work much the same. Patrons should log in with their library card number, search for the item they want, then place a hold on it. A prompt will then ask for one of 11 HPL To Go designated libraries.
Once the item is ready for pick up, patrons will receive an email. Arriving at their chosen library, they should call inside and HPL staff will deliver the materials and place items directly in the trunk of the car or through a passenger window.
For those taking public transportation, biking or walking, they should also call once they arrive and a staff member will bring their checked out material directly to them. Patrons will need to have their library card and pin number to receive their items.
While not available at all its many locations across the city, HPL will offer curbside service at 10 neighborhood libraries, covering a large swath of Houston, including: Bracewell Neighborhood Library, Collier Regional Library, Heights Neighborhood Library, Jungman Neighborhood Library, McGovern-Stella Link Regional Library, Park Place Regional Library, Robinson Neighborhood Library, Scenic Woods Regional Library, Tuttle Neighborhood Library, and Young Neighborhood Library.
Service times will be Monday noon - 7 pm, Wednesday and Friday 9 am - 4 pm, and Saturday 10 am - 4 pm.
For those requesting books and items from the Central Library’s mammoth collection, the Booklink book dispenser located in One Allen Center, downtown will also be a used as a pick up location. Card holders should know that it can take up to two weeks to receive notification if the item is not located at your chosen location.
And for anyone concerned about handling books and other items from the library, HPL has implemented new safety measures and protocols. All staff members are required to wear gloves, a face mask, and practice social distancing during curbside service.
All return items will be placed in a 72-hour quarantine before being removed from customer accounts. If anyone feels the need for further health measures, the HPL recommends quarantining the items at home for 72 hours. Their HPL To Go guide allows for using disinfecting wipes on plastic covered books, but they request patrons not spray or wipe paperback books or the pages inside books as it will cause the pages to become wet and therefore damage them.
So if you're looking for your own summertime grand book adventure, just remember: On your marks, get set, HPL To Go.