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 West Bloomfield Township Public Library administrative assistant Sonya Hanna helps shelve materials placed on hold by patrons in early June.

West Bloomfield Township Public Library administrative assistant Sonya Hanna helps shelve materials placed on hold by patrons in early June.

Photo by Deb Jacques


West Bloomfield Public Library resumes some services

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 18, 2020

 West Bloomfield Township Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Jill Bickford delivers books into the trunk of a patron’s vehicle.

West Bloomfield Township Public Library Youth Services Coordinator Jill Bickford delivers books into the trunk of a patron’s vehicle.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 An exterior book drop is now one of the services being offered at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library.

An exterior book drop is now one of the services being offered at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD —  For residents who love their local library, life recently took a turn for the better, as the West Bloomfield Township Public Library began resuming some of its services June 8.

At press time, the library was in the first of what Library Director Clara Bohrer expects to be a four-phase process.

Services in the first phase include an exterior book drop so materials can be returned, and the opening of a drive-up window at the main library to pick up materials, including new library cards.

Patrons can call the library after entering the parking lot, and an employee will place materials in vehicle trunks.

People can place holds or request materials via the library’s online catalog at westbloomfieldlibrary.org or by calling (248) 232-2290.

The library had been closed since March 14, and after ushering in the first phase of the reopening, it didn’t take long for Bohrer to get a glimpse of the public’s response.

“We opened at 10 today,” Bohrer said June 8. “At 8 o’clock, cars were regularly streaming in because they wanted to get access to the book drops and stuff like that. Within the first minute that we were open, almost a hundred holds were placed on the materials. … We get just under 3 million items a year checked out, so it’s a community that uses and values their library.”

The West Bloomfield police were on the scene June 8 to help set up the parking lot for traffic flow.

“I told the cops I wanted to do it as early as possible because people have their routine of driving through here before we open, throwing their stuff in the bins,” said Main Library Branch Manager Jeff Crocker. “I said even though we’ve been closed, they know we’re opening today. … (I) think he thought I was crazy. He saw firsthand how much people love the library and how many people were itching to get their stuff dropped back off.”

Library patrons aren’t the only ones who are excited about services resuming.

“We’ve been all kinds of sad; we miss our users,” Bohrer said. “We miss getting the materials into the hands of people. … We had training late last week. We brought the staff in because we have to do required training, and all the staff (was) extremely excited about being able to offer service again.”

Bohrer has worked at the library since the early ’90s, and the closure wasn’t easy on her.

“We have stayed open when weather’s been bad, when perhaps all the buildings around us have closed,” she said. “We try to stay open as much as we possibly can, so this was a shock when we had to turn it all off. … To me, I found it really hard.”

It is yet to be determined when the second phase will begin. During that phase, patrons will be able to browse, ask a librarian for assistance and self-check-out materials.

Whether or not facial coverings will be required has yet to be decided.

Bohrer referred to it as the “grab and go” phase.

In the final phase, she expects people will be allowed to sit and study for periods of time and have access to the computers.

Capacity limits may be in effect.

Exactly when and how it will all play out is still a mystery, but in the here and now residents can take comfort in the services that are available.

“I’m really excited,” Crocker said. “Since we’ve been closed we’ve been working from home, and we’ve been answering questions through email and text. … It was cool teaching people about our e-resources that they didn’t really know about. But what was obvious was, they wanted physical materials back.”

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