Around 90,000 public library items currently on hold for Cobb County card holders will soon be available for curbside pickup at seven library locations.
The MDJ spoke Thursday with Helen Poyer, Director of the Cobb County Public Library System, who said curbside pickup of on-hold items will start on Wednesday, June 10.
“Our challenge, like everyone else, has been getting our supplies, our (personal protective equipment) and other supplies and equipment, so that we can safely provide services to the public,” Poyer said. “We feel pretty confident that our curbside service can begin on that date.”
The seven Cobb public libraries where curbside pickup will be available are Vinings, at 4290 Paces Ferry Road; South Cobb, at 805 Clay Road; North Cobb, at 3535 Old 41 Highway; Mountain View, at 3320 Sandy Plains Road; West Cobb, at 1750 Dennis Kemp Lane; East Cobb, at 4880 Lower Roswell Road; and Sewell Mill, at 2051 Lower Roswell Road.
Some of those 90,000 on-hold items are likely to be titles from the Harry Potter series, with the magic-themed J.K. Rowling books taking the top spot among e-book checkouts, Poyer said, adding the library system’s “virtual downloadables” increased by 65% as a result of the pandemic.
“We thought that was interesting,” Poyer said of Harry Potter books being the most popular. “And then we are not surprised that “Where the Crawdads Sing” (a 2018 novel by Delia Owens), that has been popular for some time.”
Cobb library members are also spending more time nowadays learning new languages and looking up their ancestry through databases made available through the library system, Poyer said.
Before curbside pickup starts, library members will first be able to drop off loaned items at Cobb’s 15 libraries starting May 26.
All returned library materials will be disinfected, sterilized and quarantined for 72 hours before being loaned back out, Poyer said.
“We want to keep that healthy, clean environment for all,” she said, adding libraries will likely open their doors to the public in another month’s time.
“A lot will depend on what we have available as far as supplies,” Poyer said. “We’re looking at the end of June where the public can come in, browse our shelves and check out materials.”
Over 450,000 Cobb residents have library cards, Poyer said, representing about 60% of the county’s population.
The public library system employs around 240 staff, about half in full-time positions. There are 58 certified librarians.
Poyer said staff were well prepared for the pandemic, having formed a continuity plan for virtual services a couple of years ago in case of an emergency, and have been keeping busy with increased demand from members.
“Our staff members knew what they had to do and how to do it, so we’ve been providing, since the day that we had to close access to our buildings, programs and pushing out our electronic resources, letting the public know that they can use the library from home,” Poyer said. “Definitely our e-resources, streaming videos saw a huge increase.”
The library system’s Wi-Fi extends to library parking lots, Poyer said, so people can still get internet access in their parked cars.
Virtual story time and monthly book clubs are being offered, and more online programs are planned for the summer, Poyer said.
Other popular rentals of late among Cobb readers has been thriller and romance fiction, Poyer said, with biographies and autobiographies the most popular titles among the nonfiction collection.
“It’s been interesting to watch our numbers,” she said.
Those who need to renew their library membership or join can get cards renewed or temporary cards issued by contacting staff through the library system’s website until library buildings reopen.
For those who have already read Harry Potter’s adventures, Poyer said a good read she just finished is “Down the River Unto the Sea” by Walter Mosley.
“If you’re into crime, it was very interesting,” she said. “He typically has characters that have had some issues, and then they become detectives or private eyes and they become somewhat the heroes in their community.”