The Outreach Department at the Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library has seen significant growth during the pandemic. They’ve seen an increase in homebound delivery requests, and they stock the bookshelves and carts at nearly 50 living facilities and community centers throughout Ross County.  The demand for the latter has also increased since the pandemic began. Now, more than ever, patrons need to have the library brought to them.

Library book lockers offer a great no-contact solution for patrons to pick up and return library materials. (Example from D-Tech International)

CRCPL has been on the lookout for opportunities to increase their reach in the community. Recently, the library was awarded a $69,119 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will be used to extend library services to two new communities – Clarksburg and the Zane Village Mobile Home Park in Chillicothe. Clarksburg is more than 10 miles from any other library location, and Zane Village is too far from the city locations to accommodate pedestrian patrons. Both have expressed an interest in having library services embedded in their communities.

The funds will be used to install book pickup lockers and book return bins in both locations. Patrons will be able to place holds in the library catalog and then pick up those holds at designated book lockers in their own communities. Book lockers provide a completely contact-free way for patrons to request and obtain library materials. The process is easy – just scan your library card at the book locker machine, and a locker door will pop open. Retrieve your library materials, close the door, and you’re finished. Books can be returned in the book drop provided on-site.

For the Clarksburg location, the book locker will be located next to the Municipal Building at 10849 Main St. The book locker at Zane Village will be located outside of the Village office building at 11 Iroquois Ln. In addition to the book lockers and returns, the library will also provide each location with a WiFi access point, so that the communities may use free, open WiFi 24/7. Pop-up programming at these locations will also be on the Outreach team’s agenda for 2022.

The book lockers are currently in construction, and are expected to make their debut in Clarksburg and at Zane Village by early next spring.  This project is supported by the State Library of Ohio with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.