Image: Screenshot/HPL 

There’s a new sheriff in townerr—the library: Harris County Public Library’s new, instantly iconic hype man, Curbside Larry. In his gas-station cowboy hat and aviators, he’s been selling his wares with the same enthusiasm (and thick Southern drawl) as one of those used car salesmen on late-night TV. But don’t worry, he’s not trying to huckster you into some gimmick you’ll never use and definitely don’t need.

Since his debut in late July, this newly dubbed literacy hero has been helping us be our best selves, by reminding us that while the library may be closed, we can still nurture our minds and imaginations at no cost. Like the literary equivalent of a great steakhouse, the Barbara Bush Branch Library has made all of its books and movies available to-go.

Bestsellers, they got 'em in both fiction and nonfiction. Picture books and board books? Got them, too. Take it from Curbside Larry, when it comes to variety, “We got ‘em. And what’s all this cost? Just three low payments of zero, zero, zero dollars. It’s crazy how much you get for free."

While Curbside Larry (played by library staffer John Schaffer) may be hocking up the goods at the Barbara Bush Branch Library in particular, his message actually applies to the majority of branches within HCPL’s system, which have been offering this to-go system since June. All you need to access this free service is your library card. Once you receive notification from the library that your items are ready for pickup, just head over to your branch, and staffers will place your items on a table outside the library for you to pick up.

Sparkles the Unicorn works the To Go line at HPL.

Of course, HCPL isn’t alone in this new loaning system. Houston Public Library is offering a similar to-go program. Simply go online, reserve books through the catalogue (make sure you’re selecting them at one of the branches offering HPL To Go services), and then schedule a time to pick up your literary goodies.

The best part? You don’t even have to leave your car—once you're parked, just call the library, and a masked staffer will drop them off in either the trunk or backseat of your car (If you happen to swing by the McGovern or West Chase branches, a unicorn or dinosaur just might bring them out to you.).

And while you’re at it, make sure you check out the Libby app, which lets you borrow and read ebooks and audiobooks from your local library for free. Beat that, Audible.

Both HPL and HCPL put their items under a 90-plus-hour quarantine before returning them to shelves. Whichever library you borrow from, you can enjoy the below dance battle between HPL's dinosaur, Roarym, and Sparkles the Unicorn while you’re waiting.

More info at hcpl.net and houstonlibrary.org.

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