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During Prolonged Coronavirus Closure, Library Starts Home Delivery Service

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Book-lovers in the Corvallis area are once again able to check out books from the library. That’s because of a new home delivery service being offered.

Like most libraries around Oregon, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library closed its doors in mid-March as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While digital selections are still available, library director Ashlee Chavez and her staff brainstormed to find a way to get printed material in the hands of those who wanted it. "We know a lot of people don't neccesary like reading an e-book," she said.

Their solution: A home delivery service. Library material can be reserved online and staff will deliver it for free to anyone in the library service area, which is most of Benton County.

"We're hoping to be able to deliver to people once a week, and to get them their delivery within seven days of their request," she said. "Hopefully we can make that happen, but we did get a lot of requests over the weekend."

Nearly 700 requests, actually.

That's a lot of deliveries, but Chavez said she thinks her staff is up to it. “This is not what we do on a normal basis, but I think everyone’s got a great attitude of ‘Hey, we’re going to figure out how to make this happen,’” she said.

For now, they won’t make deliveries to senior homes or other facilities with a high-risk population. "I know it's a group of folks who really appreciate our services," said Chavez. "But at the same time, right now we really cannot do that in a way that complies with the governor's (social distancing) orders, in a way that feels safe."

Chavez said she knows of at least one other library in Oregon that's providing home deliveries: The McMinnville Public Library. But she said several others have contacted her for information about how Corvallis is setting up its program.

Chavez said the staff considered allowing people to come to the library and use a curb-side pick up service. "But we feel like the governor's order really discourages people from leaving their homes, and we don't want to do anything to encourage that," she said. "So we came up with a delivery service as a little bit of a compromise so that people could still access the collection but not encourage people to leave their homes."

Ultimately, she's looking forward to the day when the library can open its doors to the public again.

"No one really anticipated being closed this long when we initially made the decision to close our doors," she said.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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