Sonoma County Library system adapts to the ongoing COVID-19 situation by introducing BiblioBox!

BiblioBox was installed at the Sonoma Branch of the Sonoma County Library system, the first of its kind. Photo Courtesy of Sonoma County Library.

When the pandemic shut much of everything down by requiring everyone to “shelter-in-place,” new ways of doing things had to be done by “distancing” and “remote” approach via current technology. Now that people have become accustomed to “distancing” and “remote” accessing, the Sonoma County Library debuts the BiblioBox, at the Public Library of Sonoma.

July 2022 marked the debut of the first BiblioBox installed for the Sonoma County Library system. Library officials and staff at the Sonoma Branch had a little ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Library.

The Sonoma Valley branch at 755 West Napa Street in the historic town of Sonoma is the first Sonoma County Library to install a BiblioBox, which was installed in late June and officially “went live” on July 3, as first reported by the Sonoma Valley Sun. 

While utilizing the latest in technology, the concept is simple. To pick up library materials on your own time at the BiblioBox, place your holds via online at the Sonoma County Library website and select “Sonoma Valley BiblioBox Locker” as your pickup location, wait for notification that your holds are available, then pick up your holds at the fully automated, 24/7 BiblioBox.

Excited by the convenience of the service, Interim Library Director Erika Thibault was pleased to say. “Sonoma County Library will continue to look for ways to improve service and increase access to our programming and collections. As a resident of Sonoma, I am excited to use this service to pick up my holds when it’s most convenient for me and my family, and the library will continue to look for ways to improve service and increase access to our programming and collections.”

More will be coming soon. This new flexibility and freedom that BiblioBox provides is an innovation that library patrons are grateful for, not only because if another pandemic crisis occurs, the library system can continue uninterrupted, but for the dramatic increase in access, from eight hours most days to 24 hours a day.

The pandemic impacted many aspects of daily life and that included libraries and public facilities. While scholars, sociologists and think-tanks will continue to analyze COVID-19’s impact, what’s most important is that people adapt. And, that is what Sonoma County Library has done.

Part of the ‘Reimagining the Library’ BiblioBox is a 21st Century innovation in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jonathan Farrell

The BiblioBox concept is a direct outgrowth of the library’s ‘reimagining the Library plan’ which calls for the library to maintain and expand services at its 15 public locations in Sonoma County, while spending more time in the community and increasing access. The BiblioBox joins the BiblioBus, a mobile library van which travels throughout the county, bringing library services to festivals, farmers’ markets and underserved neighborhoods. 

“The BiblioBox allows you to access the library on your schedule,” said Mike Dawe, Information Technology Manager for the library system. “It’s part of a movement in libraries to lend materials on your terms, to be more patron-focused. If you’re a commuter and you don’t get home until the early evening, you can still pick up books and be ready for that night’s bedtime stories.”

Thomas Haeuser, the Sonoma County Library Commissioner appointed by the City of Sonoma, notes that BiblioBox lockers are funded by the Measure Y sales tax, the community’s investment in free public libraries. “By paying a very small one-eighth of one cent sales tax on retail purchases, you help the library maintain and expand services to everyone in the community,” Haeuser said, adding: “The power of a county wide system allows us to provide you access to many more free resources than we would if it was a standalone library.”

For more information on Sonoma County Library’s BiblioBox lockers, visit the Sonoma County Library website and see BiblioBox page.