Los Altos Library opens for limited-capacity service, continues expanded online resources

STORY BY GIL RUBINSTEIN, PHOTO BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Last week, the Los Altos Library opened its lobby service in limited capacity, allowing residents to partake in restricted browsing and book pickup.

The reopening follows Santa Clara County’s fall to the red tier of coronavirus restrictions, which allowed the library to begin operation at 25–50% lobby service occupancy as well as expanded computer use and printing. Residents may still participate in curbside pickup.

“The library will open more as the world opens more,” said Pierre Bedard, chair of the Los Altos Library commission. “There is limited browsing, but one thing they do that is cool is book bundles. I like non-fiction, so I’ll get a non fiction-bundle of six books curated by the librarians.”

The book bundles are part of a host of new and revamped services the library has offered since the beginning of the pandemic — other new services include online book checkouts, which have seen a 148% growth since the beginning of the pandemic, and virtual storytimes for children.

“As soon as the pandemic hit, the growth of e-book checkouts spiked,” Bedard said. “Purportedly there is a bilingual storytime in Mandarin, and it’s hugely popular.”

Visitors to the library must abide by local COVID restrictions, including wearing face coverings and sanitizing hands. However, the library also offers outdoor browsing through their partner Go Go Biblio and curbside pickup, which Bedard expects will remain in service after the pandemic.

“The Santa Clara County Library District has been able to quickly adapt and evolve with the changing health and safety protocols to offer exemplary services,” said Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board, in a recent press release. “From computer and printing services, meal distribution and student resources, to book bundles and lobby service.”

Although the most recent reopening has generated excitement in the community, the library has continuously worked over the past year to expand and develop online experiences for residents including virtual homework pods, book delivery services for homebound residents and online events.

“There is a wealth of information that is available [for] free,” Bedard said. “There are databases available, homework help. I literally went into the library to check out a book, and it was so cool. Like — do that.”

To book a curbside pickup appointment at the Los Altos Library, click here.

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