Libraries in Libertyville, Vernon Hills launch new pickup service

After months of no on-site patron activity because of the COVID-19 crisis, the Cook Memorial Public Library District has launched a new pickup service.

Patrons of the Cook Park Library in Libertyville and the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills can start returning materials later this month, too, officials said.

Library board President Bonnie Quirke said the service "adds some normalcy" to people's lives at a time of terrible disruption.

"We're throwing a lifeline to the community to help them get through this," Quirke said.

Patrons can reserve books, DVDs and other materials using the district website, By the end of the week, patrons also can call (847) 362-2330 to reserve items.

When items are ready for pickup, patrons will be emailed instructions. They'll also be asked to call 15 minutes ahead of the time they expect to retrieve the items.

Patrons soon will be able to sign up for pickup times, Director David Archer said.

Reserved items will be checked out by employees and placed, with receipts, on tables in the appropriate library's vestibule. If a patron reserves multiple items, they'll be bagged together.

Patrons can pick up items and depart without interacting face to face with employees.

As usual, hold requests will be processed in the order in which they were submitted. So, requests made over the last few months will be processed before newer ones, Archer said.

Libertyville resident Joe Newman borrowed a copy of "The Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant" from the Cook Park Library on Tuesday. He parked his SUV, walked into the vestibule, grabbed the book and walked out.

"I'm very grateful that they're doing holds and pickups," he said. "It's important to me and my family."

Patrons shouldn't start returning items to the libraries until June 15. Cook Memorial has the highest circulation of any library district in Lake County, and nearly 50,000 items checked out before the facilities closed to the public are awaiting return.

Archer is concerned the staff will be overwhelmed if all those items come back at once.

"We want to have those returned at a measured rate," he said.

To encourage that, late fines won't be assessed through Sept. 1.

Items should be returned via slots at the libraries. They'll be collected in bins that will be kept in isolated areas for four days to prevent virus transmission.

Items then will be processed and shelved.

Returned items will not be sanitized or exposed to ultraviolet light to kill germs. Lincolnshire's Vernon Area Public Library will take that additional step when it eventually begins accepting returns, officials there said.

Archer doesn't know when the Cook Memorial buildings will reopen to patrons. Officials continue reviewing state guidelines, he said.

Cook Memorial is the latest suburban library district to launch a pickup service, joining those based in Naperville, Elgin, Arlington Heights and elsewhere. Mundelein's Fremont Public Library will begin next week.

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