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Wake libraries letting residents check out books again

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The pandemic closed library doors, but their books are open for reading. 

Wake County Public Libraries were one of many county facilities impacted by COVID-19. Yet officials say the libraries are continuing programs and offering free resources to the public. 

“When we first started feeling the effects of COVID-19, Wake County Public Libraries staff jumped into action to provide digital resources for residents,” said Alice Avery, a county spokesperson. “These range from audiobooks and e-books to virtual storytimes and coloring pages.”

Those services are expanding. 

Books on the Go began June 15. The service allows no-contact pickup for library materials. 

It is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Regional, East Regional and Northeast Regional libraries. The service is also at Cameron Village Regional, Cary Regional, Middle Creek Community, Southeast Regional and West Regional libraries.

Residents using the service can place books on hold. The library will send an email notification when the books are ready with a link to schedule a time for pickup. The books can be grabbed in the front lobby or in an area in front of the library. 

“We’re especially excited about launching Books on the Go,” said Avery. “For many library visitors, the thing they miss the most is holding an actual book in their hands. So as WCPL moves toward reopening in the safest way possible, we hope Books on the Go bridges the gap for our customers.”

An online, interactive program, Storytime Anytime, is a virtual version of the libraries’ popular storytime program. Virtual Storytimes is divided into five categories: baby, toddler, preschool, family and bilingual. Staff record Videos reading stories and using fun props to make the experience enjoyable.

A summer reading program, Summer at the Virtual Library, runs until August 15 and has activities for kids and adults. It can be accessed at any time online. The program allows people to log reading and activities completed for chances to win prizes.

“We’re also really proud that 110 of our librarians are working as contact tracers for the county’s COVID-19 efforts,” said Avery. “Their work directly affects our progress on slowing the spread.”

The library system says it is looking into social distancing, reduced capacity and increased cleaning and sanitation as ways to open libraries up to the public again.