Erica McCaleb, 30, left, Yelm Timberland Library manager, and Stefan Abuan, 63, public services specialist, help organize a table outside the library on Friday, June 26, where patrons may pick up bags of books they have requested.

Most libraries in the Timberland Regional Library system are now offering contact-free pickup service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This service is available to cardholders at the Yelm Timberland Library from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Library facilities will remain closed to the public during the pandemic, and users picking up items must wear a mask.

Yelm Library Manager Erica McCaleb said her library started offering the service on Tuesday, June 23, and noted that they’ve been serving about 30 to 40 people each day.

“We’re all learning an entirely new way of doing things, so people have been exceptionally patient,” she said.

For staff of Yelm Timberland Library, it had been more than three months since they saw their valued visitors. During those first months of the pandemic, Timberland Library told its users to keep materials during the closure, McCaleb said.

Now, as return silos open back up at the libraries, staff members are seeing an increase of returned materials.

“Right now, our meeting room is filled with furniture and quarantined books,” McCaleb said.

As materials are returned, staff are doing their part to quarantine books for at least 72 hours to kill off any excess germs.

Stefan Abuan, a public services specialist at the library who worked with McCaleb on Friday distributing books, said it has been all hands on deck since the start of the program.

He added that it has been one of the more unique experiences he’s been a part of in his 14 years with the library.

Since the start of the pandemic, the library has been focused on bringing back circulated materials while also advertising its online materials, which include eBooks and audiobooks.

“We’ve definitely seen that usage increase since the start of the pandemic,” McCaleb said.

Those materials, as well as information on contactless pickup, can be found on the library’s website, www.trl.org.

It’s not currently known when Timberland Regional Libraries will reopen their doors to the public, McCaleb said.

While libraries were allowed to reopen under Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan, no industry-specific guidelines have been released by the state, McCaleb said. Inslee also recently put a freeze on counties entering into Phase 4 — which would allow groups of more than 50 people to gather — due to recent increases of the virus statewide.

Regardless of how long it takes the library system to reopen, they plan on continuing contactless services, as well as holding their summer library program online for the first time.

Guests who need to use the internet can access a WiFi hotspot outside the library every day, from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Call 360-458-3374 to reserve library materials or go online.

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