Hawaii’s libraries prepare to start a new chapter as branches slowly resume service

Hawaii’s libraries prepare to start a new chapter as branches slowly resume service

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With school campuses closed and summer break starting soon, many families can't wait for public libraries to reopen their doors.

All 51 branches of the Hawaii State Public Library System have been closed for more than two months.

On Monday, book drops reopened for the return of more than 300,000 books and material that patrons have been holding onto at home.

Everything that is returned is being quarantined for four days before being put back into circulation.

Starting on Tuesday, patrons will be able to pick up books that they place a hold on by calling the library system or going online.

“Once your item is ready, you get an email message, and that email message will tell you your hold is ready to be picked up,” said State Librarian Stacey Aldrich. “Then in that message, there will also be a link to make an appointment so you can pick a date and tell us the general time you’re going to come.”

In the first week of June, Aldrich hopes to allow people to get staff help outside the building.

By mid-June, patrons will be allowed inside with a mask.

Officials are still working out details on restrictions and social distancing to protect patrons and staff.

High-touch surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized more often.

The library system also plans to extend its Wi-Fi signal to allow patrons outside the building to connect using their own device.

Aldrich said about 2,500 people have signed up online for a library card for free access to ebooks, digital magazines and newspapers as well as online learning tools.

Patrons can watch films using the popular streaming service Kanopy at least through the end of May.

People at home can also explore their family tree using Ancestry.com through June 30.

While some staff have been doing virtual storytimes and activities, 17 are volunteering at the unemployment claims processing site set up in the Hawaii State Library.

With library services slowly resuming, Aldrich is excited to start this new chapter.

"We've missed our patrons so much," she said.

Fines assessed from February 26 through the library system's future reopening date will be waived.

For questions, library patrons should call 586-3500 on Oahu, or toll-free at 1-800-390-3611 for all other islands, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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