Book it

Island libraries introduce contactless pickup.

Vineyard Haven residents can call the Vineyard Haven library to make a pickup appointment. —Kyra Steck

This week brings good news for readers and library patrons Island-wide — the time has finally arrived for Island libraries to begin offering new, socially distant services. While in-person browsing is still prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each library now offers an option for contactless pickup of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and even video games at some locations.

This development comes one month after the six libraries chose to postpone their reopenings in order to form a safe, phased plan for offering services again. As part of this plan, each library began offering both pickup and drop-off of library materials during the week of June 15.

According to Chilmark Public Library director Ebba Hierta, public response has been positive. “We had a huge response. There are a lot of materials to be picked up today. It’s the first day, so I think there’s some pent-up demand,” Hierta said.

The specifics of each library’s pickup process differ, but the options for ordering materials are consistent across all locations. To request an item for pickup, customers can call or email the library of their choice, providing their full name, library card number, and phone number. Customers may also order materials through the CLAMS catalog, or by using the new Capira CLAMS app, available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Once a request has been sent, a library staff member will reach out via phone or email to schedule a date and time for pickup. Each library asks that same-day pickups be requested in the morning — before 11 am at the Chilmark Public Library, or before 10 am at the five others.

At this time, none of the Island libraries are able to take walk-up requests without notice. Hierta stresses the importance of prior communication, rather than making a request at the library itself. “It’s a labor-intensive process, so we need to be able to manage it,” the library director said.

At each library, customers should arrive as close to their designated time as possible. All visitors must wear face coverings and practice social distancing throughout the pickup process. Customers will be asked to provide a photo ID and/or library card upon arrival, depending on that library’s requirements. If you will be sending someone other than yourself to pick up your order, you must notify the library ahead of time.

The exact procedure for contactless pickup varies from library to library. According to Amy Ryan, director of the Vineyard Haven Public Library, learning your library’s specific procedure is crucial. “Each library looks different. Some don’t have porches, some don’t have parking lots,” Ryan said. While one library may offer pickup within an entrance vestibule, another might offer to leave materials on the building porch.

For the time being, some library materials may not be available for pickup, such as the Oak Bluffs library’s board games, or Edgartown’s musical instruments. Additionally, each of the libraries can only offer materials that are physically present on the Island. “The statewide delivery system isn’t back up and running yet,” Hierta said. “However, CLAMS is working on writing a software that will allow us to transfer items between Island libraries.” The Chilmark library director expects that software to be available sometime this week. Customers will then be able to request materials from any Island location for pickup at their library of choice.

In addition to contactless pickup, the Island libraries continue to offer a variety of virtual services. Those with a CLAMS library card can access a wide collection of ebooks and audiobooks, free of charge, through the OverDrive website. Many libraries offer virtual events, including everything from poetry “drop-ins” with the Vineyard Haven library to Pilates classes with West Tisbury. The Edgartown library even offers free drive-in wi-fi, accessible to anyone from the library parking lot.

“We’re going to be doing Zoom programs all summer,” Hierta said of the Chilmark library. “We’re trying to get creative, and find different ways to reach out to people online.”

For more information on your library’s pickup protocol and summer events, visit their website or give them a call. Contact information for each library is listed below.

Oak Bluffs library

Edgartown library
508-627-4221 and 508-627-1373

Vineyard Haven library

West Tisbury library

Chilmark library

Aquinnah library



  1. Good news for island library patrons – the state’s delivery system is up and running and users can request materials from any CLAMS library.

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