061620 Libraries Curbside Pickup 2

Solvang Library supervisor Carey McKinnon, left, readies a book order for member pickup while library technician Mirzam Campoy checks out the materials. Modified in-person services now are offered alongside book pickup services, which were launched in June 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Solvang, Buellton and Goleta library branches reopened to the public in limited capacity on Wednesday after a 15-month closure due to the pandemic, according to a spokeswoman for Goleta Valley Library.

All three branches will continue offering sidewalk services in conjunction with the in-person "express service," the spokeswoman said. Sidewalk service is available to those who want to quickly grab book holds without entering the building.

Library Director Allison Gray said she believes offering express service is the the first step toward a full reopening.

"We can’t wait to see our wonderful library users and catch up with them after this long year,” Gray said.

Patrons now are permitted to enter on a first-come, first-served basis and will have 15 minutes to select and check out material through a designated self-checkout machine, or use an express computer, and/or browse the Friends of the Library book sale.

The spokeswoman also noted that the entire library is open at all three branches, except for the restrooms.

In an effort to keep patrons safe, visitors ages 2 and over who choose to enter the library must wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. There also are gloves and hand sanitizer available at the entrance, the spokeswoman said.

At this time, borrowed material will be exchanged through the Goleta Valley Library system only and will not include other Black Gold Library System partners. 

The library spokeswoman explained that funding from the federal government, which is funneled to the California State Library, helps pay for material shipments between the seven Black Gold jurisdictions. However, due to funding "severely slashed for this 2020-21 fiscal year," the wider borrowing system has yet to resume.

The 2021-22 fiscal year begins July 1, she added.

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.