Curbside books at BP Library
Customer service is the ultimate at the Blooming Prairie Branch Library.
With Gov. Tim Walz's executive order to close certain establishments because of the coronavirus, it meant that the Blooming Prairie Library, a branch of the Owatonna Public Library, was closed.
A few weeks ago, the governor lifted some regulations and approved of the libraries offering curbside service to its customers.
Curbside delivery is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The library building is locked. Customers call the library at 507-583-7750, relay their requests and then make an appointment for curbside delivery.
After the first full week of curbside delivery, the BP library served more than 50 families. Customers call in their requests and library staff find the books requested and meet the customer at the curb, maintaining social distance.
Just last week, the BP library expanded its services by putting together some bags of kids books.
Librarian Nancy Vaillancourt says the library's customers have missed coming into the library and choosing their own books. She is hopeful that the time will be near to let customers into the library again.
"We try to find things our customers like," said Vaillancourt. "We have many customers who use our computer access, and of course, that has not been available," she pointed out. She said this fact makes the library's job more difficult.
Vaillancourt has done some Facebook story times and encourages library users to go to the BP Library Facebook page.
The BP library, Vaillancourt said, is getting in some new books with fiction books seemingly the most popular.
More videos have been requested during the pandemic, Vaillancourt related.
She said the majority of special book requests come from adults. "It's been interesting that only a few amount of children's things have been requested; the book bags might make a difference," Vaillancourt added.
Librarian Vaillancourt and her assistant, Laura Thomas, have been handling special requests.
Vaillancourt says she has no idea when the restrictions will be lifted. Plans are being drafted to handle new guidelines, she says.
"Our people at the Owatonna Library are excellent in helping us meet our customers' needs," Vaillancourt remarked. The Blooming Prairie library is the only branch of the Owatonna Public Library.
During the pandemic, the BP library has enforced no fines for overdue books.
Vaillancourt is looking ahead to the summer library season but cautions, there are so many unknowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic. These unknowns make it difficult to plan, she concluded.