Libraries are amazing places. When they close the community notices it. That’s the lesson of the week at the Ashland Library. 

While we made valiant efforts to let people know we would be closed, staff in the building on Monday saw a stream of patrons wanting to use the library for all kinds of reasons. Alas, the library isn’t open at this time. It will reopen on Wednesday, March 29, but only for hold pickups at the front door. The current construction schedule has us reopening the main floor on Monday, April 24. There is a press release out there with the details, but this blog post is intended to fill in additional information about the closure. 

What is even happening? 

Well, HVAC systems do not last forever and the Ashland Library building has been running with the same system for a little over twenty years…which is about the length of time these systems last. We have known this replacement was coming for several years and have been bracing ourselves because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. 

Why is the closure so long? 

Well, libraries are big spaces and these systems are pretty complex, especially when spaces are big. But Ashland’s system is particularly complex. My layperson’s understanding of why this is the case is as follows: When the new wing was added to the library in 2002, the original plan was to use geothermal energy for the HVAC system, until it was determined that the cost of drilling the wells for the system was cost prohibitive. So the building, which had already been designed, was retrofitted for conventional HVAC systems. As a result, most of the units are located in the ceiling over our circulation work room. They are not easy to get to, and it’s pretty much impossible for us to run the library without access to that space. So we made the decision to reconfigure how we offer services to the public. We know how to do front door service, thanks to the pandemic. We are all geared up to start doing that again starting March 29. It will be offered from the door on the Siskiyou Boulevard side of the building this time. Yes, we are aware this side of the building is less accessible to those with limited mobility. Because the construction crew needs to use the Gresham Street entrance, we needed to switch to the other side of the building. If you call the Ashland Branch at 541-775-6980, we will help you make arrangements. 

How does front door service work? 

  1. Place holds using or by calling the library. Our librarians are answering the phone for these sorts of questions at 541-774-6996 during normal open hours. 
  1. Please wait to receive notification that the hold is available for pickup. While there is a common misconception that we receive notification as soon as a hold is placed and run to the shelf and grab it, this is not how that process works! What we do do is run a report at the beginning of the day. If the requested hold is available in the building, we can usually have it ready by the next day. It’s complicated this time because we also have to work around the construction when retrieving the items. All this to say: we aren’t going to be able to go pull available books off the shelf while you wait during the closure. 
  1. Come to the Siskiyou Boulevard door and staff will check your holds out to you. 
  1. We will have browsable carts and other information on the front porch. 

What is library staff doing during this time? 

Well, our circulation team will be delivering front door services. The amount of work to do front door service is roughly the same as the amount of work to run the circulation department when people can come into the building. The rest of our team will be out in the community delivering library services outside the building. You can find them using the events page of our website. There will also be information on the front porch. 

What alternative options exist? 

  • Our adult services librarians will be providing reference services over the phone. They can also help you with print services, which you will be able to pick up at the door. 
  • JCLS has fifteen branches, and you can access our services through any of them! Any branch will be happy to help you while Ashland is closed. Talent is the closest library outside of Ashland. 
  • Holds pickup is available in Ashland. Just place a hold over the phone or online and come pick it up at the Siskiyou Boulevard entrance. 
  • If browsing is your jam and you are not finding what you like on our carts, please use our JCLS Discovery service. All you need to do is fill out a form and our librarians will create a curated list of titles just for you. You can then place your holds straight from this list! You can get started with Discovery HERE

Please bear with the Ashland staff as we manage a new process. We can all vouch for the need for this update to our system, and we are excited to have an updated system when we reopen!