Jane Tewsbury picks up items Wednesday at the new curbside circulation kiosk at the Charles M. Bailey Public Library in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

WINTHROP — A large, cedar-and-mahogany cabinet has been installed in front of the Charles M. Bailey Public Library in Winthrop, signaling an improvement in curbside pickup services that could stick around through the pandemic.

The library building is now closed to the public, but curbside pickup is available to those who order materials online or by telephone.

In December, Winthrop residents credited the library’s virtual clubs with helping to keep them occupied during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Library Director Richard Fortin said the 8-foot-tall, weatherproof cabinet was installed last week. He said he envisioned the virtual clubs, online borrowing and curbside pickup to supplement the usual library services when the pandemic loosens its grip on the area.

“I think when we transition out of the pandemic, we’ll probably still be doing things like this, and patrons really like it,” Fortin said. “We needed something more permanent.”

He said the library contacted Mike Blanchard, owner of Blanchard Cabinetmakers in Winthrop, to design something to better deliver curbside service. Previously, the library was using a picnic table as a pickup point, which was rendered useless in inclement weather. Fortin said the project cost $3,500.

Reece Dubreuil, 11, left, and his brother, Connor, 9, pick up books and project materials Wednesday from the new curbside circulation kiosk at the Charles M. Bailey Public Library in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

On top of the kiosk’s function, it also is designed to fit in with the historic look of the Bowdoin Street library, which was established in 1916.

“Since it was going to be permanent and the building is a historic building, we needed something that looked appropriate,” Fortin said.

Stacy Tomassone, the library’s youth program librarian, said the back of the cabinet can be used as a bulletin board to promote library programs.

The cabinet also features a container of free STEAM projects, which give children the chance to flex science, technology, engineering, art and math skills. Tomassone said the activities, which are swapped out each month, are a hit with children.

“It has everything you need to do a little craft or a science project,” she said.

Reece and Connor Dubreuil, 11 and 9, respectively, were using the kiosk Wednesday morning to pick up one of the STEAM projects and some books they had ordered online. Their mother, Laura, said her family comes to the library about once a week, and the new cabinet is an improvement over the old system, but she still misses “using” the library.

“If it was wet or not good weather, you would have to wait for a clear day to get your books,” she said. “We miss just browsing the books.”

“I prefer picking it off of the shelves,” Reece Dubreuil said. “But sometimes they can get some books for me that I don’t think of getting, and I end up liking them.”

Added Laura Dubreuil, “These librarians are very good at knowing what we like.”

Fortin said the library is in a period of transition period, and looking forward to when many Mainers have received a COVID-19 vaccine. He said the pandemic has created some strains on the library’s budget through online borrowing services, but the library has been able to stay on track by shifting money from other programs.

“We’re lucky to have a town manager and a Town Council that’s so supportive,” Fortin said, adding he is already speaking with town officials about budget matters for the next fiscal year.

For more information on curbside pickup at the library, visit baileylibrary.org/curbside.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: