Curbside Books And Free WiFi

Libraries across the country continue to adapt services to meet patron needs. When the coronavirus took hold in March and public library buildings closed to the public, services continued in a new, modified format. Two of the most popular library services born out of this public health crisis are curbside pick-up programs and outside of the building WiFi use. 

Curbside programs offer patrons a way to access resources and materials. Libraries offering curbside pick-ups keeps books and other tangible resources in the hands of patrons. 

Free WiFi opens a digital door for patrons who need internet access – this includes everyone in the community. Among those needing access to wireless internet are people experiencing homelessness, who may have a phone but no data plan. Members of the community without home access, or limited access, rely on the library as their primary source of internet. In fact, research states that 73 percent of public libraries are the only provider of free internet access. These reasons are why curbside pick-up and free WiFi are two of the most popular public library services.

An Increasing Need For WiFi

Since March, schools have moved to online learning and many jobs are being done remotely. In addition, just about everything is done online now, including job applications, bill payment, social services applications, and staying in touch with loved ones. An internet connection is essential in today’s digital world. Equally as important is the need for human connection – something librarians provide patrons on a regular basis. With many public libraries still closed or operating at a limited capacity, librarians provide this through socially distanced services like curbside pick-ups and free WiFi outside of the building. 

Curbside Pickups 

Many libraries have adapted their book check-out process to accommodate health and safety guidelines and allow patrons to continue checking out books. Curbside pickups are a new popular way for libraries to get books into patrons’ hands. Patrons use their library account to reserve books and follow their local branch’s pick-up guidelines to get the book(s). Some libraries take it a step further and create book bundles for readers of all ages. Patrons can personalize their bundles based on age and interest or ask their friendly librarian to hand-pick some amazing books just for them. 

Libraries are offering more than just books in the curbside model, too. Office services like printing, copying, technology lending, and WiFi are also accessible from outside of the building. Check out more tips on how to boost library services while buildings are closed. 

Ebooks and Digital Services (WiFi)

Libraries across the country have seen increases in library card applications and digital content lending since March. Libraries are making it easier to apply for a library card online and access these digital resources. The Libby app makes it easy to check out ebooks, audiobooks, films, and music. Many libraries report seeing an increase in wireless sessions since the start of the pandemic. As reported in our COVID data, our partner libraries have regained 73% of their WiFi usage since March, on average. In conversations with our library partners, several have noted an increase in patrons accessing WiFi after hours and from the parking lot. The need for WiFi is clear. 

Can librarians combine these two popular services to further enhance patron experience? 

Yes, we think so! 

Cross-promote Library Services To Boost WiFi Usage

Research shows that library programs and advocacy efforts directly impact communities and economies in a positive way. By investing in libraries and free public WiFi, communities can help patrons which translates to community wellness. In addition to reporting WiFi usage for the PLS report, libraries can continue to prove the value of WiFi by increasing usage rates. 

Patrons may not know about the library WiFi, or if they do may not realize it’s accessible from the parking lot and can be used at any time. When patrons come to pick up their curbside orders, be sure to have signage clearly stating that WiFi is available and how to use it. Encourage patrons to access the WiFi while they wait for their orders to be delivered to the car. Include printouts about the free WiFi with all curbside orders. 

Informing and reminding patrons about free WiFi available outside the building, while they wait for their curbside order, can help increase the numbers for WiFi use. Ultimately, the goal of the library is to provide a needed service to the community. Free WiFi is a service many community members need. Librarians can help community members by promoting these two popular library services.

WhoFi provides libraries with wireless session counts, for advocacy, operational improvements related to the patron experience, and for the annual PLS and state surveys. To learn more about how libraries can use WiFi insights to improve patron services, schedule a demo to see how it all works.