Johnson County libraries busy after restarting dropoffs, holds and pickups

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Book-lovers rejoice. Libraries are starting to offer a few services after months of closure. 

While facilities aren’t open to the public yet, book dropoffs, holds and pickups are available in some areas. That means, if you have had library materials at home with you during the stay-at-home order, you can finally return them.  

People are apparently anxious about getting the library’s property off of their hands. When the Johnson County Library opened four of its drive-thru book drops last week, they were inundated. 

“Our previous record for returns in a day was 19 bins. Last week, when we opened up to accept returns again, we set a new record. They had 53 bins at the Blue Valley Branch” Ken Werne from Lenexa’s City Center Library said.

When books are returned, they are somewhat unceremoniously dumped from giant bins in to untouched piles where they sit for a while to make sure lingering germs are gone. Nancy Birmingham is on the library’s team setting the safety standards for cleanliness and eventual reopening.   

“The current science says that the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic for 72 hours,” Birmingham said. 

So they don’t even handle the materials to put them back into circulation for several days from when they are returned. 

If you are a bookworm who would rather read than binge watch shows, you will be thrilled to know you can now place holds for new books and materials in the Johnson County system, and start picking them up at a few select locations on Tuesday, May 26. That little announcement caused library patrons to place a record 35,000 holds just since Friday.

The next phase of the Johnson County Libraries is still in the works, but it involves holds, pickups, and dropoffs at all 14 locations.

Some things about the shutdown may actually have benefited library users. Programs like Kid’s Story Time have gone online and grown.

“One of our first priorities was to get story-times back up and running,” Elissa Andre, External Communication Manager for the Library, said. “The library knows they are really important to families in our community. Now we have people watching story-times from all over the country.”   

Free classes on resume building and financing are also now online, giving access to more patrons than ever. The Friends of the Library books sale that is usually held in the summer, and raises more than 100 thousand dollars for the library, has also moved online.

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