Sno-Isle Libraries expands Books by Mail to all customers during coronavirus closures

Sno-Isle Libraries has expanded its Books by Mail program to all customers as another contact-free service while community libraries remain closed due to coronavirus precautions.

Books by Mail is available to any Sno-Isle Libraries customer who cannot or does not want to go to a community library to pick up materials, said Sonia Gustafson, manager of Sno-Isle Libraries Library on Wheels program.

“It’s an additional contact-free service we’re offering during this unprecedented time,” Gustafson said. “It’s great for those who check out only a few books at a time.” 

Books by Mail is intended as a temporary service for those who are unable to participate in contact-free services at a physical library location due to coronavirus precautions. It’s available to customers who live within the Sno-Isle Libraries district.

To join Books by Mail, customers will need to complete an online application form or call any community library to request the serviceCustomers who are approved for the service will receive an email confirmation within two to three business days and can begin placing holds for books and other physical materials at that time.  

“If customers need assistance placing holds, they can contact their community library,” Gustafson said. “Just remind them to send holds to Library on Wheels.”

While customers will select “Library on Wheels” as the pickup location, they won’t need to go past their mailbox to get their holdsThe Books by Mail team at Library on Wheels will send items using U.S. Postal Service Media Mail.

The number of items in each Books by Mail envelope is determined by size and weight of the items placed on hold. Up to five items will fit in an envelope. If all of a customer’s requested hold items will not fit in one envelope, the customer’s remaining holds will be sent after the first order is returned.

“We are able to send most library materials through the mail, including books, DVDs and audiobooks,” Gustafson said. “However, we can’t send big coffee-table books, most cookbooks, atlases and other large or heavy items. 

It can take up to two weeks for the Books by Mail envelope to arrive in the mail. This time frame is taken into account when due dates are set for the customer’s items.

Customers can check the due dates on borrowed items by clicking the Login/My Account button on All items are automatically renewed if no other customer is waiting to borrow the item.

Each Books by Mail envelope sent to customers includes a postage-paid return mailing label and instructions on how to mail the items back to Sno-Isle Libraries. In general: 

  • Use the envelope provided to mail materials back to Sno-Isle Libraries and ensure it is labeled correctly. 
  • Double-check the receipt and return only the materials sent by Library on Wheels. The prepaid postage rate is determined by the weight of the customer’s hold items. Do not use the envelope to return items that were not sent using Books by Mail. 
  • Seal the envelope and place in your mailbox or contact your local post office to discuss pick up options. 

“There are so many people who are being very, very careful with their health,” Gustafson said. “This is one of our services we want people to know about as another contact-free option. It’s for those folks who really miss being able to go to the library.

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