The Pleasanton library’s curbside pickup system needs help

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Elyssa L

Elyssa Lieu, Senior Editor

What does it mean to check out a book? For most people, it means getting ready to dig into a good story. Yet one of the largest factors in reading a story is being able to check it out immediately. You’re in the library, you check out a book, and the book is now yours for two weeks. 

During quarantine, Pleasanton’s residents especially have been starving for some reading material.

“The level of interest was astonishing from the start. The first day alone, we received 3,800 book requests,” said Nick Binzoni, Pleasanton Library’s community relations coordinator.

The Pleasanton Public Library’s quarantine gameplan has resulted in a temporary closure of the library itself and a shift toward reserving books online. Patrons can place a hold on a maximum of ten books, then select a pickup time slot once their books are ready.

While the library’s rigorous measures are commendable, there is one problem with the process. It just takes way too long to get your books!

“I would probably be willing to wait a week or so because after [that] I would find other ways to read the book, like an online copy or an ebook version, or even order it from Amazon if I need a physical copy,” said Maanas Shah (‘22).

In fact, the Internet is a big part of why teens in particular are unaware that the library is even open. 

“Part of the reason is that there are so many resources online. For example, if I wanted a book, I could probably find a PDF of it somewhere instead of going to the library,” said Jessie Chan (‘23).

Elyssa L

Running from 1 to 6 PM every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, only 10 people are allowed to sign up for each 30-minute slot. These slots are usually booked well-ahead of time, meaning the typical reader usually picks up their books around three to four weeks after they’ve placed their holds. 

This doesn’t mean that the PPL’s staff are doing a bad job. Their hard work and passion is easy to see, even in times like these. There’s just simply way too many people and not enough staff to accommodate them. 

So how can we actually solve the problem?

One idea calls for the library to increase the number of people allowed in a time slot and incorporate volunteers more often. Before quarantine, between 200 and 250 volunteers helped in Alameda’s library branches. Now, it’s still just as important to use volunteers in order to help the library function at its best capacity.

It seems reasonable as well to increase the number of participants allowed to sign up. Given that all patrons never leave their cars, it’s probably a safe bet to up the number of people per pickup slot. Plus, looking at the policies nearby libraries have adopted shows that the majority are open for five days a week instead of three, letting them address more patrons.

Even though the Pleasanton Library is playing the safe, the system in place now is making it clear that Pleasanton citizens are demanding to read – and that, as soon as they can.

Update: As of August 18, the Pleasanton Library has made curbside pickup available on Fridays and Saturdays as well, along with adding a new sidewalk pickup option, where librarians place reserved books outside to let patrons come pick them up at their convenience.