OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Public Library is now providing a contactless curbside pickup service.

Library Director Sonja Ferrell said she and staff settled on the concept after hearing other libraries in the state were providing similar services. “This has been a type of service a lot of libraries have been offering,” she said. “We have given much thought into opening and we’re not ready to completely open our doors to the public. The pickup service — we think is the safest way.”

The precautions, Ferrell said, rely on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health. No more than 10 employees work in the facility at a time and they are required to wear masks. When a patron returns a library book, staff don’t touch it for at least three days before wiping it down.

The contactless service is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Before going to pick up any library materials, a patron must request items at https://catalog.ottumwapubliclibrary.org or call the library at 641-682-7563 for help in placing the holds. Residents can also go to the library’s website to view a tutorial video for placing requests.

After placing the request, they will get a call from the library and must schedule an appointment for pickup. Then patrons can drive to the pickup, located at Fourth Street and behind the alley and call the library notifying them of their arrival. If a person has no way of calling upon arriving, they can call ahead of time and notify the library of their estimated time of arrival.

Library employees will arrive with the bagged materials. Patrons are asked to open their trunks or their back doors ahead of time to allow for a no-contact placement. Ferrell said patrons should respect social distancing protocols and not open their windows or offer to take the bags. Those who drop off materials must use the book drop located outside of the library.

The curbside pickup is part of the library’s plan to reopen. Ferrell wrote in a letter to patrons that staff “are taking this all day by day and week by week and as it becomes safer to do so we will begin the next phase of the reopening process.”

“With the numbers going up these couple weeks, we’re not comfortable in reopening,” Ferrell said. “I’m not sure when we will reopen. All the details will be worked out as we continue to watch for guidance.”

Along with the drive-thru service, patrons can access the library’s online services including ebooks, audio books, digital magazines, language learning, children’s learning and research databases at www.ottumwapubliclibrary.org.

While Ferrell said she misses seeing patrons in person, she is confident in going forward with the curbside pickup method. “We’re excited to start a new normal,” she said. “We’re circulating materials, such as magazines and movies. We’re meeting some needs to provide entertainment during quarantine.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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