Returning patrons to the newly reopened library have been speaking about an unexpected wow factor with all the improvements they are finding. Instead of looking like a place that was closed for six months with only a handful of staff, the building and services boast several upgrades that are drawing rave reviews.
Some new services were launched just before shutdown, such as an improved catalog that provides intuitive results and links to book reviews. There is also a new calendar that allows patrons to register for events with a couple of clicks and to book library spaces. During lockdown, the library vastly expanded eBook and eAudio offerings by joining Cloud Library, and in recent weeks joined the Link+ collaboration with other California libraries which has made 22 million titles available for free checkout in Coronado.
Besides these transformative upgrades in core services, the building itself boasts a new gleam. Fresh new carpeting throughout and some needed paint touch ups were followed by a special pre-opening deep clean. New book drops at the street have replaced the rusted old ones. The teen area has been completely refurnished and renovated thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of the Library, from the Joy Henry Fund which is specifically intended for teen services. The renovation was completed with input from Coronado teens who wanted to see a space with the studious but relaxed atmosphere of a coffee shop.
The library lobby boasts new checkout machines that allow for either assisted or patron self-service. The new machines use radio frequency technology which allows a stack of items to be checked out simultaneously and in a completely contactless way, which is proving popular in the COVID era. The conversion to RFID technology, which brings other efficiencies, was a major project undertaken during closure and involved the manual tagging of all 200,000 items in the collection by half a dozen staff that were still at the library at that time.
During the library’s lockdown, staff brainstormed how to continue to serve the community while closed. Face shields were made on the library’s 3D printer using a National Institute of Health approved design to supply Sharp Coronado Hospital and City staff. Curbside service debuted so patrons could still place holds and borrow items, and programming such as story time went virtual.
Besides expanded eBook service, the library also boosted its other online offerings. The library pays for premium subscription services whose fees might be prohibitive for individual users. Cardholders can access these services for free from the comfort of their own home. Some of the services used most during lockdown included Kanopy streaming movies, Flipster, which provides access to the online versions of popular magazines, Mango language learning and educational courses provided by Gale and Consumer Reports.
Other changes returning patrons will notice include a more efficient placement of different genres of materials. The new book area has doubled in size to give the adult shelving area the feel of a bookstore with the rest of the collection arranged from front to back according to circulation popularity. Biographies and audio books have been brought out of the shadows to more prominent locations. All non-fiction books are now on one side of the main library and all fiction is grouped together on the other side for a more intuitive shelf browsing experience. Graphic novels were relocated to their own section. Staff will always be available to assist patrons in getting used to this new arrangement and are ready to answer questions and help patrons find what they would like to read or watch.
The library is working closely with schools to supplement services such as after school science enrichment, media literacy, and storytimes. Parents will find a new homeschooling section in the kids area.
The library is currently offering limited hours which Library Director Shaun Briley says “will help staff and the public to become accustomed to the new safety protocols as we move to full services.”