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Maine Libraries To Begin Offering Curbside Pickup This Week

Keith Shortall
Maine Public
The Belfast Free Library is among those in Maine that began opening their doors Monday or providing curbside pickup, or both.

Several Maine libraries, including in Brunswick and Limerick, are opening the week of June 1 for curbside pickup, while others, including in Belfast, will open for limited services inside. The Portland Public Library has also announced it plans to open for curbside pickup on June 8.

Credit Keith Shortall / Maine Public
Maine Public
The Belfast Free Library Monday welcomed back patrons with masks inside the facility, while offering curbside pickup for others.

Jennifer Alvino is the president of the Maine Library Association, and the director of the Windham Public Library. She says many libraries will likely reopen to patrons after an interim period of curbside service.

And she says her library in Windham, which reopened to patrons last week, is taking great care to keep people safe.

"We're quarantining our books for 72 hours when they're returned to people, of course extra cleaning," Alvino says. "We're all wearing masks, we're requesting that people wear masks when they enter the building." She says shared computers at the Windham Public Library will not be made available for now..

Alvino says throughout the pandemic libraries have continued to provide services to their communities, including free WiFi, which is especially important in rural areas with less at-home access. "I'll peek out and we'll have cars in the parking lot using our wireless, even though the library building is closed."

She says the challenge is to find a balance between safety, and libraries' traditional role as community gathering spaces. "Libraries are active vibrant places to gather," Alvino says. "We just need to determine how to safely kind of pivot our services to still provide those traditional services, but do so safely."

Inter-library loan services in Maine are still closed for now.

Correction: Belfast Free Library opens for limited services, not curbside, June 1.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.