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Bayport-Blue Point Library: Using technology to put community first
Bayport-Blue Point Library was mid-build on a new library when the pandemic shut everything down. They needed to ensure their new library was prepared to meet the needs of their community no matter what the future held.
The library installed three selfChecks and a remoteLocker outdoor to ensure they could provide convenient library access to all community members inside and outside the library.
Post-pandemic, the new Bayport-Blue Point library has welcomed a record number of visitors while the remoteLocker outdoor has extended library service to those uncomfortable with face-to-face contact or who cannot visit during open hours.

The Bayport-Blue Point Public Library serves the 14,000 residents of two neighboring communities, Bayport and Blue Point, on Long Island, NY. Founded in 1938 as a Blue Point PTA project, the library was staffed entirely by volunteers until 1970, making it one of the last volunteer-run libraries in New York State.

Today, that commitment to community and neighborliness is still the driving force of the library. In 2018, the community overwhelmingly voted to support the library’s purchase and renovation of the historic St. Ursula Center, a former convent in the heart of the residential area.

“The public overwhelmingly endorsed saving this building, saving this property, and moving the library here. The vote was “yes” over two-to-one, which is historic in New York when it means raising taxes,” says Library Director Mike Firestone. “Three thousand people came out to vote, which was more than ten times the number that voted on our budget. They wanted this new library space for the community.”


Adaptable from the beginning 

The old library building, just over a block away, was only 10K sq. ft. and offered just one meeting room and a very small children’s area. After the purchase of the St. Ursula Center in 2019, plans immediately began to convert it to a modern 28K sq. ft. library. Intending to serve all possible needs of the community, designers planned multiple meeting spaces, a maker space, a large children’s room, a café, and uniquely, an eight-acre outdoor discovery center with story paths and fitness paths. However, as the design was underway, something completely unforeseen happened: a global pandemic shut down the Bayport-Blue Point Public Library and the entire world.

“When the project was pitched to the community, we had goals and plans for what we thought the public would want,” says Firestone. “But once construction was underway, we had to pivot and adjust our plan to adapt to how the world was changing.”

The question became: how does a library that is being custom designed to serve as a community space meet the needs of that community when the doors must remain closed?

“We shut down in March of 2020 and didn’t even begin offering curbside pickup until the end of May,” says Firestone. “We’d been a 3M and Bibliotheca customer for years and had received tremendous support as we planned the new library. We’d already decided to put three selfChecks in the new building to accommodate patrons who would be using this much larger space. I wondered if there was a Bibliotheca solution that could help us manage this new reality as well.”

Serendipitously, Bayport-Blue Point’s need coincided with the release of Bibliotheca’s remoteLocker outdoor pickup locker solution.

“I called our sales rep and asked, ‘What have you got for me?’ He said, ‘We’ve got this great solution, but it’s actually not on the market yet,’” says Firestone. “But he made some calls, got us in the queue, and that’s how we got to be one of the first libraries in the US to pilot the outdoor locker.”

The remoteLocker outdoor, a weather-resistant version of the standard remoteLocker, allows libraries to offer 24/7 library holds pickup in parking lots, community green spaces, or anywhere else with electricity and internet access.

The intuitive touchscreen makes it easy for patrons to retrieve holds by scanning their library card, and the remoteLocker’s ability to integrate with uniFi+, Bibliotheca’s library communication solution, means libraries can broadcast important information and promote services and events outside the library walls.

With the help of a COVID-19 relief grant, the library installed the remoteLocker outdoor solution just outside the main doors of the new library building.

“We learned a lot with shutting down and reopening. Implementing pickup lockers became a no-brainer,” says Firestone. “It means that during nights, weekends, holidays, or, God forbid, even future pandemics, we can serve our community. And customer service is the driving force behind everything we do.”


The best of both worlds: human touch and technology 

The new Bayport-Blue Point Public Library officially opened to the public in December 2021. Within weeks, library usage was off the charts. In a community with a total population of just 14,000, the library welcomed 11,000 visitors in one month alone.

The remoteLocker is listed in the library’s ILS as the “after-hours hold locker” pickup location. Before staff could even publicize the new service, patrons were discovering the lockers on their own, reserving materials online, and picking them up without assistance.

Both the remoteLocker and the new selfChecks are popular with patrons. However, Firestone is quick to say that Bayport-Blue Point offers all the conveniences of a modern library, but it still prides itself on old-fashioned human connection.   

“We are a small community, the kind of place where people know our staff as neighbors and want to have a conversation about the grandkids,” says Firestone. “And coming out of the pandemic and into this brand-new facility, a lot of people want to come in, see each other in person, and get a look at what their tax dollars paid for.

“But some people are never going to want to go back to seeing people face-to-face, and we want to continue to serve them. We also have patrons who take the train into Manhattan to work and don’t get back into town until we’re closed; the locker makes the library accessible to them as well.

“We are here to serve the public. We just keep anticipating their needs and giving them what they want. It drives us every day because we know there’s more that people can get out of the library. From day one, the Bibliotheca team has been behind us and supported us with any vision, need, or idea we’ve had. It’s been a real win-win relationship.”


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