If you can enjoy take-out sushi or pizza during the coronavirus pandemic, why not books from your local library? That’s the plan underway at the Kegoayah Kozga Library in Nome, but first the staff is working to get their catalogue online, so that patrons can browse the stacks digitally and select their titles from home.
Nome library patrons were operating on a bit of an antiquated system before the pandemic hit. They would browse books on the shelf or visit the librarian’s desk. But now the library is closed to the public for safety reasons.
That gives Library Director Marguerite LaRiviere the perfect opportunity to inventory their 20,000 plus materials and get them into an online database.
“In order to do the curbside pickup of materials we really need to have a catalogue of materials that is accessible in the cloud for people so that they can look up our catalogue from home, again they do need internet access and then they can see what materials they can check out.”– Marguerite LaRiviere
LaRiviere hopes the online library catalogue and book drop-off system will be ready to use by the end of September. Once patrons can pick out their books online, they would then call up the librarian.
“We’ll make an appointment for you to come in and pick-up a book. You would drive up and we would put a book rack at the curb. If it’s bad weather or raining, then we would put that book rack on our porch.”
The library did a bit of a dry run earlier in the summer with their summer reading program. They were able to leave craft and reading kits outside for families to pick up. It even brought new patrons to the library, which LaRiviere says could be because those parents weren’t bound to the traditional program hours.
Libraries have extra safety precautions to consider, LaRiviere says. Individual pages of a novel can’t just be wiped down. That’ll mean another slowdown for eager patrons looking to read the newest titles or magazines.
“Items that are returned we will need to quarantine in a very specific way.”– Marguerite LaRiviere
Doing this project requires completely closing the library to do a full inventory of the materials so that’s at least one “silver- living” to the shutdown.
While LaRiviere has been wanting to start an online catalogue for years, she acknowledges the digital divide in Nome and wants patrons to know they will still have other options for getting ahold of books, magazines, movies, and more.
“You could call us and say, ‘this is the type of book I want’ and we could tell you the titles we have. We’re not saying you have to use this catalogue, but we are just saying it’s a new tool that we think will be helpful to many people in the community.”
Eventually, she’d like to get a full system where patrons can request and renew books all online but for now, the Nome library is starting small to get books out during the pandemic.
Joining the Kegoayah Kozga library is free. Nomeites can call 443-6628 to set up their account.
Image at Top: The Richard Foster building which houses the Kegoayah Kozga Library. Nome, Alaska. Photo from Emily Russell, KNOM.