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Creative ways local libraries are supporting their communities from a distance

By Marissa Gillett | Mar 20, 2020

Creative ways local libraries are supporting their communities from a distance

Recently an unprecedented amount of libraries started closing their doors to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. In typical library fashion, dedicated library workers haven’t taken their temporary closures lying down. Not only are most, if not all, libraries extending lending periods and suspending late fees on borrowed materials, they are continuing to serve their communities in some very impressive ways. We encourage everyone to look into what resources your local library is providing at a time when you may need them most.

While their doors are closed, check out your local library’s selection of digital materials available 24/7. Our platforms, OverDrive and Libby, provide ebooks, audiobooks, movies, and magazines instantly to smart devices. From the newest adult bestsellers to juvenile classics, there is something for everyone to enjoy. To get started, all you need is a library card.

Couldn’t get a library card before the library closed its doors? Find out if your library offers an Instant Digital Card, a temporary library card that is linked to your phone number, which allows you access to your library’s digital collection!

While delighting readers is the first thing people think of when they think of the library, providing reading materials is just the first of the many ways libraries are connecting their communities to information. In addition to lending platforms, libraries offer a variety of educational content that can be used from the comfort of home. Online tutoring, virtual courses from industry leaders, online language-learning, and genealogy databases are just some of the digital resources I’ve seen offered by our library partners.

Although these resources are always available, some libraries are relying solely on their digital resources during this time. Others have adapted their programming or found creative ways to help members of their community that need it most.

Some libraries like Fulton County Library in Georgia, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library in Florida, Danbury Library in Connecticut, York County Public Library in Virginia are bringing the library’s Storytime programs into the homes of their patrons every weekday while the closures are in effect.

Stratford Library in Connecticut isn’t just stopping at virtual Storytime. Their kid’s librarian is hosting many library programs via the video conferencing platform, Zoom. Kids can join a video chat to compete in spelling bees, craft time, or show off their furry friends at a virtual pet party. Sign me up!

While the situation involving COVID-19 continues to evolve and schools and businesses require people to stay home, some libraries are taking steps to ensure everyone in their community have essential resources available to them. Libraries like Darby Free Library in Pennsylvania are giving out free packed lunches to children while schools are closed. San Francisco Public Library made an announcement that they will be offering support to low-income families’ childcare needs during this time. Many others are providing a list of resources throughout the community that families can take advantage.

It’s in moments like these that we are so happy to have the partnerships that we do with libraries. Even in the most uncertain circumstances, libraries remain integral to the lives of so many people. We are proud to support these amazing institutions as they continue to support the communities they serve.

In an update last Thursday, we announced that the Digital Bookmobile 2020 Tour will be suspended until April 16th, pending any further developments. Although canceling an event is never an easy decision, it is ultimately what is best for our library and school partners, our visitors, and the team. We are looking forward to getting back out on tour once this is all past us. Until then, we will be washing our hands regularly and supporting our local libraries!