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Colder weather means changes to Rochester Public Library operations

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The chill in the air means the Rochester Public Library must adjust its curbside pickup operations to survive a Minnesota winter.

Starting Oct. 5, the library will be operating its curbside pickup near the exit of the Civic Center Parking Garage. Library staff have a small conference room that will give them warmth while serving patrons.

Patrons will need to make an appointment to pick up their books. Once at the garage, they will need to take a ticket to enter, and park in one of the seven parking spots reserved for curbside pickup. Parking is free for the first hour.

Rochester Public Library Communications Director Karen Lemke said curbside pickup has been very popular during the pandemic.

"With our curbside pickup service, prior to COVID, we were averaging about 20,000 items put on hold by our customers," Lemke said. "Last month, we had over 35,000 items put on hold for people to pick up. Granted, we understand that part of that is that the browsing isn't available just yet, but, it's still staggering. We knew that we were busy. We could see the line around the corner often. But, seeing those numbers is affirming that it's a well-loved and appreciated service."

The next step is reopening the library building to patrons. The plan is for that to happen mid-October. People will be able to "express browse" by appointment.

Lemke also said the library hotline has stayed busy. Although the majority of the calls are library-related, she said 11% are COVID-19 related. Since March, library staff have taken more than 20,000 phone calls.

Megan Zemple

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