Times Colonist Book Drive is Aug. 8 at Ogden Point, with plenty of precautions

The 2020 edition of the Times Colonist book drive will hit the dock on Saturday.

It will not be perfect. We’re in a new location, at a new time of year, with a whole new set of procedures and protocols demanded by both logistics and the pandemic.

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The book drive is important to the community; it is an important fundraiser for school libraries and literacy work. But even more important, make no mistake, is the need to keep everyone safe as we deal with the threat of COVID-19.

We cannot pretend that this will be business as usual. The 2020 drive poses more challenges than all of the previous ones put together. It was a hard decision to go ahead with the drive, even as limited as it is.

Your patience and your diligence will be appreciated, along with your books.

Our volunteers will be working in bubbles to limit contact with each other. They will be wearing protective gear such as masks and gloves. We will not have as many volunteers as in past years, because we need to limit the number of people on site.

Frankly, we have no idea how many donors will show up, whether our volunteers (bless them all) will be bored or overwhelmed.

Things will go wrong; we just don’t know what they are yet.

Should you wish to donate (and thank you in advance for doing so) here are a few things to keep in mind:

It’s a one-day drop-off, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Breakwater District at Ogden Point, off Dallas Road.

We cannot accept encyclopedias, textbooks, magazines (including National Geographics), medical books, outdated reference works, Reader’s Digest condensed books, or books in poor shape.

To be blunt, we don’t want nearly as many books as we received in the past, as the pandemic has forced the cancellation of our annual book sale. Instead, books will be sold directly to Russell Books, which can only handle a

fraction of the volume of books that we would receive in a normal year.

So think quality, not quantity.

If you donate books we cannot use, those books could overwhelm our limited space. You will also delay everyone else in line. Please respect what we are doing, and play by the rules.

Pack books in boxes or bags that you don’t want back, and make those boxes small enough to be lifted easily by one person.

There will be just one entrance, on Dallas Road at the downtown end of the Ogden Point property, across from the end of Niagara Street. Please approach from the downtown side so that you can make a right-hand turn into the property; we don’t want vehicles making left-hand turns off Dallas Road.

There will be no access to the book drop-off from the entrance at the other end of the property, the one close to the breakwater.

Once inside the property, a series of sweaty and (hopefully) smiling volunteers in high-visibility vests will direct you where to go.

Be patient. Ultimately, you’ll end up at Pier A.

Please stay in your vehicle, with the windows rolled up. Just pop the trunk or unlock the doors and a volunteer will do the rest.

In past drives, a half-dozen people could swarm a vehicle at once. This year, COVID-19 considerations mean only one volunteer at a time will unload your vehicle. Be patient.

After we have taken your books (but not, we hope, your groceries, golf clubs or other stray items) you’ll be directed back to Dallas Road via the road by the breakwater.

If you are coming on foot or by bicycle, please use the same entrance, across from the end of Niagara Street, and look for the Times Colonist van.

No matter how you are getting there, please do not leave books at Ogden Point before (or after) the actual drop-off. The seagulls will get them.

Credit goes to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which has donated the space we need. Some GVHA staff members will be among the volunteers.

We have tentative plans for another drive in September, but that will depend on what happens with this one.

On Saturday, be generous with your quality books. But also, to quote Dr. Bonnie Henry, “be kind, be calm and be safe” as we strive to protect each other while helping the community.


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