For the last few months, libraries have been transformed into terrible tragic book-prisons — palaces of knowledge unable to open their doors, forbidden archives of science and art. (Which is to say, I’m feeling very huffy about not being able to check out a copy of Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping.)
But now they’re finally re-opening, in a limited sort of way, and you can once again obtain some of the more-than-eight-million books and other items from the Seattle Public Library system. Seven branches now offer curbside pickup service, with returns accepted at twelve locations and Bookmobile plans still in the works. You’ll just need to jump through a few extra hoops, and don’t expect to be able to browse the stacks anytime soon.
If you’d like to borrow a book, you’ll first need to download the myLIBRO app (for iPhone and Android) or just call the library at 206-386-4190. A library card is required, but you can get one of those online as well. Let them know which items you’d like, and which branch you’d like to pop by to pick it up. Your options are the Central Library, Ballard Branch, Broadview Branch, Douglass-Truth Branch, High Point Branch, Lake City Branch, and Rainier Beach Branch. (Update: Currently, this service is only available for materials requested before the libraries closed in March; but it'll be expanded to include new holds soon.)
And that’s it! They’ll let you know when it’s time to come retrieve your items, on foot, bike, or (if you must) car. Returns are just as easy, with dropoff boxes at all of those locations plus a few more. Due dates have been extended through September 15, and there are no fines.
Meanwhile the Seattle Public Library is still going strong with robust online offerings: Tons of language and technical certification classes, if you have time to brush up on skills. They’ve also got a great YouTube channel where they host story times, classes, and literature lessons for kids. And the Shelf Talk Blog has been serving up great quarantine-suggestions every couple of days, from Susan Sontag essays to international films to fantasy stories written by women of color.
I know it’s a bit overdone to say “for more on this topic, consult your local library.” But for real, everyone, consult your local library. They’ve been rising valiantly to the occasion ever since things started falling apart, and the next time some small-government asshole is like “who even uses libraries anymore,” let us all grab them by the lapels and scream “EVERYBODY.”