Grab Your Library Card and Keep Reading in Arlington

You can keep on reading during the brave new world of coronavirus rules and restrictions. The Arlington Central Library on Quincy Street has a “hold pickup” initiative that allows a library patron to order books in advance and pick them up at one of the three stations inside the library auditorium. The Central Library is open for this service Monday-Thursday from 12-7 p.m. and Friday-Sunday 12-5:00 p.m.

Henry Bruesewitz and his mother have come to the Library on Wednesday afternoon to pick up “Dora’s Pirate Adventure” and “The Gruffalo” for Henry. Jenny is waiting on “Talking to Strangers” which is not yet available for her. They walk over to the outside book slot. “Hey, Bud, let’s return our books first.”

Henry and Jenny wait under the canopy at the social distancing feet marked on the sidewalk leading into the auditorium. “Henry, get out your library card.” No line today, not like the last time they visited.

They walk to the first station just inside the auditorium door where the library staffer is helping clients retrieve their holds. Only one book is available for Henry today, and he can’t wait to read it. He runs out the door through the garden patio and sits on a curb leafing through the pages.

In order to ensure the safety of the staff and patrons, there are a number of rules to follow for the hold pickup service. A patron must park in the surface parking lot instead of the garage that is closed. Wear a mask, squirt your hands and line up at six-foot intervals outside the library entrance closest to the tennis courts.

LeoNard Thompson, Central Library Chief says, “The long waiting lines from the first week since starting the new service have dwindled and we have streamlined our approach and process.” A regular library patron waiting for “The Water Dancer” for her book club expressed surprise that the process ran so smoothly.

It is recommended that only one household member enter the library to retrieve the holds. Your books will remain on the shelves for 10 days in case you aren’t able to retrieve them immediately.

According to the library there may be some delay in receiving your holds due to quarantine of returned books for 72 hours, but you can have as many as 30 holds at a time in any status (ready, frozen, not ready, etc.)

Henrik Sundqvist, Communications Officer for the Library says since the program began June 15 they have had over 44,000 print books and other library materials checked out or renewed, over 55,000 physical holds placed and 134,000 items returned to the seven book drop locations.

The most popular fiction adult book requested is “Where the Crawdads Sing” and the most requested non-fiction book is “The Splendid and the Vile.”

For children, “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Meltdown.”

Sundqvist says “the demand for the digital collection has been off the chart this year. In 2020 we circulated 714,000 digital items compared to 492,000 in FY2019.”

Many library services are not currently available but it is possible to sign up or renew a library card at one of the three stations located in the auditorium. Library books can be returned in the outside book returns at any of the branches but are not accepted in the auditorium. Hang on to your personal books or trade them with your neighbors since no book donations are accepted until further notice.

The Library does not currently have a timeline for reopening other services and the branch libraries. For further information about fines, volunteers, and physical accessibility, pick up and other questions, contact 703-228-5990 or text a librarian at 703-783-3898.

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