Curbside pickup is available by appointment. Contact us for details.

FAQ: The Library & Curbside

|

We’ve made an ongoing video series answering some of your most burning questions like, “is the library open?”, “can I return things?”, and “when are donations going to be accepted again?”. You can watch all the videos on here, or on our Instagram. Each part deals with different topics, with all questions listed below for quick reference.

Note: Videos I – IV may have partially out-dated information as curbside has developed between the recording of the videos and today. For the most current info about curbside, you’ll want to check out How Does Curbside Work?.

Sit tight for more videos! We’ll add to this series once we have enough new FAQs.


Part I

Part I Video

Part I Questions

Is the library open?

The library is now offering curbside pickup, but our building is still closed to the public. We’re here scheduling appointments and gathering materials, and are **UPDATE** The building is still closed to the public, but curbside service is available by appointment Monday – Thursday from 10 AM to 6:30 PM, and from 10 AM – 3:30 PM on Friday.

But the governor said libraries can open with Phase 2?

Yes, but in the bullet points of his plan what he actually meant was that libraries could allow you, the public, in ONLY to pick up things at the circulation desk. Everything would already be checked out to you. There would be no browsing, no printers, no computers, no asking staff to find you things– just a quick in and out stop. So for now, we’re sticking with curbside service. We’ve given this plan a lot of thought to make it as safe and efficient as possible.

When will you open?

Honestly? We don’t know. We’re following the guidance of the town and state on this. Check our Facebook and Instagram for updates, as well as our website. As soon as we know, you’ll know.

Is it safe for me to come pick stuff up?

Yes. We’re doing everything we can to make this as safe a process for you as possible. We’re following all CDC, state, and town guidelines. But we also need your help to keep curbside safe for everyone else. When you come to curbside, please:

  • Stay 6ft away from the person in front of you in line.
  • Wear your mask 

What about fines?

Fines don’t exist! We’re waiving all fines while all of this is going on. If you happen to notice a fine slip through, let us know and we’ll waive it for you. Fines don’t even rank on our list of things we care about.

Also, please don’t put money in the book drop. With the number of items coming back our bins are overflowing and any money is likely to get lost. We’re also not able to handle money right now, and probably won’t be able to once we start letting you back in the building.

Can I come by and print something? Can you print something out for me?

Sorry, no. The UPS Store offers printing for minimal cost, and a public computer if you need one. If you have your own device and just need WiFi, we have free WiFi available 24/7, no password needed. If you’re in our back parking lot just look for any of these networks to connect: Brooks Central, Brooks West, Brooks NF, Brooks NF2, Meeting Room.


Part II

Part II Video

Part II Questions

How does curbside pickup work?

Curbside is a bit of a misnomer, you don’t pull up to the curb. Let’s go through the process step-by-step, starting from how you request things:

  1. Go to clamsnet.org
  2. Login with your Library Card Number and PIN
  3. Search for something you want. Limit your search to available at Harwich by using the filter on the left side of search results.
  4. When you find something you want, double check that status says Available at Brooks Free Library (Harwich)
  5. Click Request It.
  6. Change the pick up location to Harwich, if needed.
  7. Click Submit.
  8. Wait for us to call you! We’ll work with you to schedule your pick up during one of our curbside slots.
  9. Arrive during your appointment window.
  10. Park
  11. Walk up to the table. If there’s a line, queue up 6 ft apart from the person in front of you. We have chalk marks on the ground to help.
  12. When you get to the table, find the bag with your name on it. Then you’re good to go!

Can I just stop by and pick up something that says is available?

No, sorry. We’re working flat out right now and we cannot accommodate unscheduled pickups. We’re asking that you follow the curbside procedure not only to ease the strain on us, but also for the safety of everyone involved. Scheduling pickups let us space everyone out throughout the day, avoiding large groups and heavy foot/car traffic in our parking lot.

Why can't I come pick my items up the same day?

Staff are trying to adapt to a new way of working. Like we said in the question before, we’re running at 100 miles per hour. We don’t have access to parts of our system that make our workflow shorter, which means that every interaction takes at least three times as long.

What if I want to add something to my pickup?

What if I want to add something to my pickup?
That’s 100% doable. Just go online to clamsnet.org and request an item. We check all requests against our list of scheduled pickups. If we pull an item and see you already have a pickup scheduled we’ll pop it in your bag. We won’t call you to schedule another time, and there’s no need for you to call us to request an additional item (unless of course, you can’t access the online catalog).

Can you call me back if an earlier spot opens up?

Sorry, this is a firm no. Just to give you an idea, we circulated over 200 items in our first week, and since then we’ve at least doubled, if not tripled, the amount of pick up times we have available. That’s hundreds of items passing through our hands being processed and scheduled every single day. We’ll try to accommodate you when we can, but we can’t get into the process of starting a list and calling people back if an earlier time slot open ups. As the Bard wrote, “that way madness lies”.

Why are all of you wearing masks?

We’re wearing masks to keep you safe, to keep each other safe, and because it’s what the health department requires us to do. Please respect that we are wearing them for the foreseeable future.

Why can't I get stuff from other libraries?/I've had something coming for a while but it never arrived?

Delivery is down right now between libraries, and we don’t know when it will be back up. That means we can’t offer items from other CLAMS libraries, ComCat, or ILL. Once delivery resumes there’s going to be a serious backlog at the sorting facilities that will take a while to get through. Your holds are still there, so don’t worry, your place in line hasn’t changed. **UPDATE** Delivery between CLAMS libraries is up and running. There is still a serious backlog that is being processed so items will take more time than usual to get here. ILL/ComCat is still down.

What if I don't have specific things to put on hold? How do I get stuff?

This is an easy one! Just call us. We love doing this! Reader’s Advisor is part of our job, and we’ve all been doing extensive training on this over the past few months.

Can I return things?

Yes, the book drop is open for returns, no donations please! We are accepting returns for items from all CLAMS libraries.

Can I return DVDs and CDs in the drop?

Yes! If you’ve got a rubber band to put around them that would be helpful too.

I returned things but they're still checked out to me?

This is because we quarantine everything for at least 3 days when it’s returned. That means we don’t touch items or even look at them until those 72 hours have passed. Stuff won’t come off your account until we scan it in, so that’s why it lingers. We also cannot provide return receipts at this time.


Part III

Part III Video

Part III Questions

When will donations be accepted again?

Not for the foreseeable future. Our bookstore is run by our Friends group, and they will decide when donations will be accepted and how that process will work. For now, please do not put donations in the book drop. We are recycling all donations at this time– which means we are piling books in the basement in the wild hope that one day we can start recycling them in tiny increments.

Please do not use us as your book dumping site. We know it’s tempting, but we just don’t have the space or the manpower to handle donations. If you’re not sure what to do with books you’d like to purge, may we suggest doing things like we do: recycle your books. It may sound like sacrilege but that is 100% the best thing you can do for an unwanted book. Recycled books can be made into new books, and as you know, everyone loves new books.

Have you been working this whole time? / What do you do all day?

Yes, we have been working this whole time! We worked from home for a solid month during the peak of Covid coming through Massachusetts. During that time we built online programs from scratch, planned and recorded content, and grew our social media platform so you never were not connected with us. And that’s just a sliver of what we did!

I think it’s safe to say while we were working from home the idea of “work hours” didn’t exist– we all worked pretty much all day every day. I know I was checking our social media accounts after midnight most nights.

A lot of what we’ve been doing is stuff you might not be able to see, like the all-staff four hour meetings that we held multiple times a week to come up with just the bare bones of what curbside could potentially look like. Don’t forget– there was no precedent for this stuff. There was no guidance on Day 1 from the powers that be in the library world about how to do curbside, or how to disinfect items, or what types of things we could loan that wouldn’t be vectors for transmitting Covid-19. Studies are going on right now to figure out how the virus acts on library materials. We’ve been flying blind, just like you have at your work, trying to come up with plans based on the most current scientific research available to us.

Since we’ve been back in the building we’ve continued to do all the projects we were working on while we were home, plus new projects we can only accomplish in the building. We shifted the entire Fiction stacks and interfiled books. That sounds easy but it involves way more moving parts than you’d think. 

In addition to projects, we take phone calls all day from people requesting items. In a previous FAQ we mentioned we had 200 items in one week? Well, we’re doing curbside Monday – Friday now and doubled, if not tripled the amount of pickup slots available each day. 200 items is a fraction of what we’re moving. We’re also pulling items in delivery to other libraries, running our paging list, responding to emails, processing new books– the list goes on.

In short, we’ve been working, we will continue to work unless the powers that be say otherwise. It’s been a herculean effort to get to where we are but we’re going to keep on doing the best that we can, and we appreciate your understanding!

When are fines going to start again?

So, again, as we said in previous videos: definitely not now, possibly not ever. Fines will not be collected while Covid-19 is going on. That said, our automated system may still throw a fine up on your account every now and then but you can ignore those. We waive all fines when we check items in. Ignore fine notices, and if you see a fine on your account give us about a week before contacting us to let us know it’s there. It may come off in the meantime.

Why did I get a “due soon” notice on something I already returned?

This happens because of quarantine! All returned items go into quarantine for 72 hours. When you put your item in the bookdrop that doesn’t automatically return it. We don’t have that fancy technology that bigger libraries have, so everything that’s put in the bookdrop has to be manually scanned and checked in.

So that means your items do this– they go in the bookdrop, go into quarantine where we don’t touch them for at least 72 hours**, then we scan it and check it in. But before we scan it our automated system doesn’t know you put your item in the drop, so it still sends you those automatic “due soon” notices.

**Quarantine times have been updated: Items returned in the bookdrop are quarantined for at least 7 days/168 hours. Items coming through delivery are quarantined for 96 hours.

What would be a huge help to us is if you disregarded those notice and do not reply to that email letting us know you returned something earlier in the week. By not replying to those emails you are saving us hours of work since we get tons of these emails a day and it becomes incredibly time consuming replying to each and every person with the same explanation. Rest assured your item will get checked in, it’s just going to take a little bit of time. You can also ignore any fines that pop up on your account since we are waiving all fines when we check items in.


Part IV

Part IV Video

Part IV Questions

How do I renew things?

Fun fact, you don’t have to! Everything automatically renews up to 3 times on its own without you having to do anything. The only time auto-renew doesn’t happen is when something is on hold for someone else, so if you have a newer item by a popular author, or featuring a popular actor, you’ll want to pay attention to the due date which you can find in your account at clamsnet.org.

If for some reason you do need to manually renew an item, visit clamsnet.org and login with your library card number and PIN. Look for the small box to the left of the title of the checked out item you want to renew. Click the box to check it off, then click on Renew Marked. This will renew your item, but again, you don’t have to do this because this process happens automatically.

So what’s the story with delivery?

You can now request items from other libraries to be picked up here at our curbside service! Keep in mind, delivery is a massive network, and books have to be shipped off Cape to be sorted before they come back on Cape. There are literally thousands of bins that are part of the backlog that delivery is trying to move right now. It’s going to take a little while to get your things. 

When delivery is dropped off here we quarantine it for 72 hours before we check them items in. This means you’ll see the “In Transit” status for longer on your requested items if you check your account on clamsnet.org.

Quarantine times have been updated: Items returned in the bookdrop are quarantined for at least 7 days/168 hours. Items coming through delivery are quarantined for 96 hours.

If I called right now from the parking lot why can’t you run up and get the things I want?

Think about when you order take out or delivery from a restaurant. There’s a wait time of thirty or forty minutes, right? You can’t pull into a restaurant’s parking lot and get your pasta primavera the second you arrive. They have to fill orders as they’re received, gather ingredients, ensure there’s no cross contamination between any of the stations where food is being prepped, cook the food, then box it up so it’s ready for you. 

Well, it’s like that for us too. We have to process orders for books as they come in. We have to make sure we’re pulling the exact book you request, do internal paperwork for curbside, contact you, schedule a pick up, then bag the items up, all while dancing around each other at a limited number of workstations with phones and access to our ILS (the program that lets us work our magic). All of this, I should add, on top of more calls coming in for help, pick up requests, and general questions.

We also are actively cleaning things throughout the day, running programs, having meetings, and filling research requests. Like we said before, that’s just some of what we do.

So bottom line, no. Even if you’re in our parking lot we can’t run back into the building and pull things for you. There are just too many moving parts which we need to make happen so curbside stays safe and effective for everyone.

Why aren’t you outside anymore?

This is a bit more serious, but let’s start off light. First of all, it’s hot outside, and it can get really exhausting hauling out book carts and standing out there in 100% humidity.

More importantly than that though– we have limited staff. When we have someone outside with the pickup items that means we’ve lost a person inside taking calls and fielding requests. By bringing that person back inside we’ve got the manpower we need to expand curbside even more!

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly as to why we aren’t outside anymore–

We’ve had pushback. 

We’ve had patrons question our curbside process, and not in a constructive way. We’ve had some people refuse to follow directions which are in place for the safety of our staff, for themselves, and for their neighbors.

We’ve had people ask why we are even employed if the building is closed.

Frankly, we’re doing everything we can right now. We’re all working as hard as possible, offering services within the guidelines set by the town and state, and having to stand outside and face someone who is questioning our job is not something anyone on our staff should have to confront. So we’re supporting our staff, who are the backbone of curbside. We’re staying inside the building during pick up.

We believe in your ability to monitor yourselves maintain 6 ft of distance between each other. We’re also trusting you to continue wearing a mask when you come to curbside. We hope you understand, and we appreciate you taking the time to read the answer to this particular question.


Okay, that’s it! We’ll update the FAQ series as needed, so keep an eye on our Instagram. We’ve got tons of great stuff being posted all the time on our social media accounts. Send us a DM on Facebook or IG if you have a question.