Libraries Prove They’re More Important Than Ever
Now more than ever, libraries are meeting their communities’ needs in new and creative ways. Even while their doors are closed, they are providing access to digital resources, holding events virtually, being repurposed for emergency uses, and continuing to be a bright spot in people’s lives.
Many school librarians are supporting their students and colleagues and continuing to encourage a love of reading, and public librarians are promoting literacy through online storytimes and book clubs. But that’s just the beginning. Take a look at more of the services libraries are providing around the world right now.
Delivering Services Virtually
Copenhagen librarian Christian Lauersen put together this list of services that public and academic librarians are currently offering to their communities. From online read alouds for children and adults to virtual book recommendations to transforming their libraries into food banks, these libraries and their staff are going strong.
Increasing Access to Digital Resources
Even though book distribution is on hold, library users in Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas, still have the library at their fingertips. Searches for library cards, the library’s app, and e-books have greatly increased, and librarians are adding new titles to their online assortment every day. Their community members can interact with librarians and have book discussions every Wednesday and Friday through their Facebook page.
In their “Snapshot of School Librarian Roles During School Closures,” the American Association of School Librarians reveals that expanding access to online resources and offering virtual assistance are the main areas of focus for librarians during the pandemic.
Capturing a Unique Moment in History
Ball State and Muncie Public Library are teaming up to document life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Ball State’s Daily News, Matthew Shaw, dean of University libraries stated, “Future historians will want to look back at the lived experiences of our communities to understand this challenging moment. You can be a part of this history by writing, drawing, taking photographs, or interviewing a family member about life during this pandemic.”
Collecting and Disseminating Coronavirus Information
Two school librarians are doing what they do best — ensuring access to high-quality information. Melissa Techman and Paula Archey created a mini clearinghouse on COVID-19 to keep people informed.
Providing Historical Records Online
The Volusia County Public Library system in Florida digitized more than 100 years of local newspapers, allowing patrons to search and access historical articles and photos from home.
Keeping Their Community Connected
The Portage District Library in Michigan is engaging with their community through online contests that ask members to submit activities for at-home fun. Participants are entered into a raffle to win a gift certificate from a local business. This initiative is keeping community members connected, providing ideas to keep families engaged at home, and also helping out local businesses.
Turning into Food Banks
Transforming into Emergency Childcare Facilities
San Francisco libraries were repurposed as childcare centers for children of workers on the front lines of the pandemic. This allows critical care workers to continue working while their children are safe in centers following social distancing and CDC guidelines.
Providing Critical Personal Protection Equipment to Front-Line Workers
A number of libraries and schools have stepped up to use their 3D printing capabilities to produce personal protective equipment desperately needed by healthcare workers, including Columbia University Libraries; Los Angeles Public Library’s digital media makerspace; the University of California San Francisco Makers Lab; Hinsdale, IL, public and school libraries; the San Diego Central Library; schools in London; Arcadia High School in Virginia; and many more.
These are just some of the powerful ways libraries and library workers are serving their communities in these unprecedented times, proving once again that they have the ability to educate, inform, entertain, support, equalize, mobilize, and hold communities together.
What other amazing things have you seen libraries doing? Tell us in the comments or connect with us on Twitter @demco.