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As part of its phased reopening, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is now offering curbside services, free outdoor WiFi, and wireless printing at Allegheny and other select locations. Woods Run will be added on July 21.

Photo: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny branch started offering curbside services on June 23. Courtesy of CLP

By Katia Faroun

Great news for Pittsburghers: The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) has introduced curbside services, and you can finally replace that pile of library books collecting dust in your home with fresh reads.

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CLP first introduced curbside services on June 23 at its Allegheny, Brookline, East Liberty, Hill District, and Main (Oakland) locations. At the time, staff allowed item pickups by appointment, but the services have now expanded to include book returns, printing, and free outdoor WiFi. Services will be available at 11 more locations, including Woods Run, by July 21.

Patrons with new or existing holds are able to pick up their items from the location they were ordered from by scheduling an appointment after being notified of their items’ availability. Upon arrival at their library location, patrons should approach their designated pickup window where a staff member will place their items on a table between the customer and the window. Anyone using the library’s curbside services must wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

Until now, the library was not accepting any new orders due to a backlog of holds placed in the spring, but patrons are now able to place new orders online for curbside pickup.

Those who have checked out items before the start of the pandemic are now able to return their items at any designated drop-off location, no appointment needed. For now, all items checked out before the start of the pandemic are on automatic renewal and all fees are being waived. Returned books are quarantined for 72 hours upon arrival before being available to order.

The incorporation of curbside services has been a relief for patrons, according to Suzanne Thinnes, manager of communications at CLP.

“It has gone very smoothly,” Thinnes said. “People are loving the fact that they can come back and pick up books, they can return their materials … something that caused a lot of stress for patrons was knowing that they had overdue library materials.”

Wireless printing is also available by appointment at locations offering curbside services. Those interested in using the print services must either email their pages to a designated CLP email address or fill out a form available online. After sending in their pages, users must call their CLP location and schedule an appointment to pick up their prints. Once at the location at the scheduled pickup time, users must call again to notify staff they are ready for pickup. Print jobs are currently limited to 10 pages per day to ensure a smooth and safe process. 

Free outdoor WiFi is now available at all CLP locations as well. Patrons taking advantage of this service are asked to be mindful of social distancing guidelines and to be courteous to others accessing the network.

In regards to the limited contact of the curbside services, Thinnes commented on the balance between providing services and maintaining social distancing guidelines.

“Libraries are known for that community space where people can come and congregate, so it’s a learning curve for us to be able to move a little bit away from that model but still provide those services that people need,” Thinnes explained.

Those interested in taking advantage of CLP’s online resources can visit the new CLP-Virtual page on its website for free access to eBooks, Audiobooks, magazines, TV shows, comics, music, and online learning services. The site also offers virtual storytimes and book clubs, career assistance, and one-on-one phone appointments with an available librarian. Those interested in registering for a library card can do so digitally under the “services” page on the website.

The library hopes that as it follows the state’s guidelines, it can begin a slow transition toward reopening at each of its locations, implementing the same phase-by-phase process used when introducing curbside services. Patrons can expect limited in-person services in the future, such as possible grab-and-go services or limited computer access.

“The services are going to look a little foreign and it’s going to be an adjustment, but I hope that once we do our phases that we will be able to gradually introduce more services,” Thinnes said.

At the time of printing, curbside services are available Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations: Allegheny, Brookline, East Liberty, Hill District, Main (Oakland), Beechview, Hazelwood, Homewood, Knoxville, Squirrel Hill, Carrick, Lawrenceville, Sheraden, South Side, West End, and Woods Run.

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