Tips for Running Curbside Pickup at Your School Library

A parent pulls up to pick up her student's supplies during curbside pickup.You may be doing a mix of virtual and in-school teaching this year, or maybe you’re going all virtual. No matter how your district plans to deliver services, you’ll need to get books and materials into the hands of students to take home — and your school library may not be open as usual. This is where curbside pickup comes in.

Luckily, public libraries have been practicing this service for several months and have established guidelines and protocols that are working to keep people safe.

Follow these steps to institute your own curbside pickup service for books, makerspace kits, and other resources for your virtual students.

Decide What You Will Be Offering for Curbside Pickup

Will students be able to check out just books, or will you be offering other materials as well? You may be considering offering robotics or other traveling makerspace kits with at-home activities. Or you may wish to create kits with consumable makerspace activities that kids can keep at home when finished.

You may also wish to coordinate with classroom teachers to offer homework packets for pickup with library books. Start by touching base with your colleagues to understand their needs and possible plans and put together a coordinated effort.

Decide How You Will Take Library Requests

If students are able to request books through your online catalog, you can pull the books and place them in bags for each student to pick up. You can also use a Google Form for students to place holds. Students can request specific books on the form, or they can describe their interests and receive a librarian-curated book bundle. Consider making a “book menu” to help younger students identify the topics they are interested in.

Create a video using Screencastify or another program to show students the steps to request books. Let students know how long they can expect between their request and when their books will be ready for pickup. You may wish to have the form open only on specific days (i.e., keep the form open Monday through Wednesday and have book pickup on Fridays).

Decide How Often You Will Offer Curbside Pickup

Will you offer materials once a week for pickup? Maybe your school schedule will require pickup two times a week. This may change throughout the year as students’ needs change.

Establish and communicate a timeframe for initial pickups, and then try to set standard hours and days for ongoing pickup so parents and students know what to expect. Create a quick survey to determine hours that accommodate families’ schedules.

Prepare Your School for Reopening

Explore products that will help you reopen your doors safely and help ensure staff and student well-being.

Decide on Limited Contact or No-Contact Exchanges 

There are a variety of ways to handle pickup. Depending on your comfort level and your district’s protocol, you may wish to limit the contact you have with students and caregivers when exchanging materials. Whatever your approach, make sure to protect yourself and others by using appropriate personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer and cleaning exchange areas with disinfectant. Consider these options:

  • For limited-contact pickup, have parents pull up to your pickup point, roll down their window, and tell you their student’s name. Hand supplies through the window, or have them open their trunk for you to place supplies inside.
  • For no-contact pickup, have parents pull up, hold up their child’s name in the window of their car or text a designated number (such as a Google Voice number) with their child’s name, and pop their trunk. Place supplies in the trunk and close it.
  • For no contact, you can also pre-bag supplies and label them with student names. Place them alphabetically inside the school doors or on tables outdoors, and use a program like SignUp Genius to schedule spaced-out pickup times. You may still wish to have parents text when they are there to pick up books.
  • If possible, recruit volunteers to drop off materials to the homes of families who may not be able to come to the school during designated pickup times.
  • You can also use designated pickup times to collect returns of materials in a mobile dropbox or bin.

Figure Out How You Will Direct Traffic

Use traffic cones to direct drivers where to go and where to park. You can also use traffic cones or barriers to direct parents inside if you are staging materials inside the school.

Use clear signage to let drivers know the details of pickup once they get there, such as where to go, who to call or text, which doors to use, the protocol for handoff, and how to find their materials.

Decide How You Will Notify Families of Your Services 

Leverage your school’s communication channels, including emails, text messages, direct mail, and social media, to let families know about your library services.

Include a link to your online catalog or your Google Form, as well as to your instructional video that explains how to place holds, on your library web page, your Google Classroom, and your school newsletter.

Remind parents and caregivers of the protocol and safety measures for picking up materials from the school, and provide information on how to receive deliveries of materials if available.

Practice Safety Measures

Remember to wear a mask and ask families to as well if you will have any contact with them or they will have contact with each other.

To prevent the spread of germs, wash or sanitize your hands in between pickups. Sanitize all surfaces, including door knobs, tables, and cell phones used during pickup.

Ensure that books brought back are placed in quarantine and dated with their check-in date. Read more about quarantining books in “How to Quarantine Books in Your School Library.”

Remind families that if anyone in their family is ill or they have come in contact with someone who is ill, they will need to cancel and reschedule their pickup time.


Liz Bowie

Liz Bowie

Marketing Content Manager at Demco, Inc.
Liz is the Marketing Content Manager for Demco. Her background includes editorial management and product development of innovative and time-saving tools for schools and libraries, with an emphasis on Common Core, literacy and math. The products she and her team have developed, including classroom games, learning centers and professional development resources, have garnered 46 industry awards for excellence in education. Liz is passionate about promoting literacy through her work and the work of others. If you are interested in sharing your ideas and programming tips on Demco’s Ideas and Inspiration blog or have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, contact Liz at