Did you have a book on hold from the Denver Public Library? Get ready to read.

Librarians were outside branches Tuesday distributing items to people who had made pick-up appointments in response to an email or text alert that their hold was ready.

Carly Tam, Julie Martinez and Khoa Hoang are excited to give you books at their curbside pickup location outside of the Corky Gonzales library on West Colfax Avenue. July 7, 2020.

Carly Tam, Julie Martinez and Khoa Hoang are excited to give you books at their curbside pickup location outside of the Corky Gonzales library on West Colfax Avenue. July 7, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Denver Public Library started clearing the hold shelves Tuesday.

When the coronavirus shuttered the 26 locations of the state’s biggest library system in mid-March, about 12,500 items were on hold across the city, spokeswoman Olivia Gallegos said. Normally, patrons would have dropped in to pick up the books, recordings or other materials they had requested at the branch of their choice.

Tuesday, librarians were outside branches handing over items to people who had made pick-up appointments in response to an email or text alert that their hold was ready.  In all, 201 customers made appointments Tuesday, the day the alerts started going out, and nearly 600 items had been checked out by 4 p.m., Gallegos. She said another 491 patrons had reserved pick-up times over the next few weeks.

For now, librarians are working through holds requested before the closure. If you made a request before Denver libraries closed March 16 and you have yet to receive notice that your items are ready, you should soon and only then will you be able to make a pick-up appointment. The library is asking borrowers not to pick up their items if they are feeling unwell and to wear face coverings. If you can’t remain in your vehicle, you’ll need to stay at a social distance as you collect your books.

Librarians will start taking new hold requests July 13.

“Starting on Monday, go crazy,” Gallegos said.

The curbside service was available at all but the Smiley and Byers branches, which were undergoing renovations.

“Folks at our locations are really excited to see our customers back,” Gallegos said.

While library users still can’t come inside, since the closure they have been able to access such services as listening to children’s stories over the phone and chatting with reference librarians online. Book drops reopened, except at Byers and Smiley, on June 15. Of the more than 300,000 items that had been checked out when the libraries closed, 68,719 have been returned since the book drops reopened, Gallegos said Tuesday. All due dates have been extended to July 20.

Last week, the Central Library at 10 W. 14th Ave. piloted a pop-up internet cafe, offering laptops for use under tents.  Starting next week, Gallegos said, that service would be offered more regularly at the main library and rolled out at other branches.

Bookmobiles have been distributing free books at Denver Public School buildings where free meals have been offered.

It was not yet clear when it would be safe to welcome library users back inside, Gallegos said. She said that was complicated because the system is so large, with some branches in older buildings where social distancing would be hard to maintain.

Anythink, the library system serving Adams County, announced Tuesday its seven locations will reopen to the public beginning July 20. Anythink was taking such steps as increasing cleaning and hand-sanitizing stations, improving ventilation and encouraging visitors to wear facial coverings — free masks will be offered — and limit their stays to 60 minutes.

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