The Verona Public Library will plan to start offering twice as many curbside pickup slots, and add Saturday hours, after staff saw success during the first three weeks of the program.

“We’re having a really good response from the community,” Stacey Burkart, library director said. “We had been doing 300 pickup appointments a week, we’re going to double that to 600 appointments.”

The service was offered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Fridays during the first three weeks, but starting May 16, the service will also be provided 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Since Monday, April 27, the library has offered no contact pickup of books and other materials. Staff place bags of items that are already checked out outside on a table, and patrons schedule a time slot for pickup.

The library had been offering 10-minute time slots, but will now switch to five-minute slots instead.

Burkart said the library has filled every 10-minute time slot since beginning the curbside service.

Patrons may either check out items themselves from the library’s online catalog, fill out a web form to request items be checked out for them, or call the library.

As there is no delivery between libraries because of the coronavirus, only materials already available at the Verona library may be checked out.

Burkart said there are between four to six librarians working to keep curbside going. The service will continue even after the library re-opens to the public, the timing of which remains under discussion.

Whenever the library does reopen to the public, it will be subject to Dane County’s “Forward Dane” COVID-19 restrictions. Announced on Monday, May 18, the county has nine public health criteria that are ranked with red, yellow and green status markers to judge how the county is doing mitigating the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, the county had met five of those benchmarks, meaning they were marked as green, while the others were partially met and labeled as yellow.

Burkart said the reopening of the library will be a slow transition.

“We will continue with virtual programs for the foreseeable future,” she said. “Also, we will continue doing curbside, even after we reopen. We’ll keep that service going for people not comfortable coming inside.”

Any items being returned right now must be left untouched for 72 hours before being handled by the librarians, as per Dane County Public Health guidelines.

To reduce the number of returns, due dates for all checked out materials have been extended to July 1 and Burkart encourages patrons to hold onto items for as long as possible.

“People are being great and really holding onto stuff, we’re seeing a fraction of the normal returns,” Burkart said.

Two weeks ago, the library conducted a survey on its website to gauge interest in what topics the public would like for online programming. A gardening program held on Zoom recently drew 50 people, Burkart said.

Other events the library has traditionally held as a mass gathering have since gone virtual, too. While the Word on the Street 5K only had around 150 participants, half of the normal in-person attendance, Burkart said about 100 of those people signed up after the event had gone “virtual” – meaning that participants would receive their race materials and go on a 5K run on their own, rather than follow the originally designated route.

Those who missed out on the survey may still suggest topics they’d like to see for virtual programming by sending a message to the library on Facebook, filling out a form on the website or through email.

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.