Upon the advice of public health officials, Anne Arundel Country Public Library (AACPL) closed all of its locations from March 13 through at least May 3 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While library officials aimed to protect the health and safety of library staff and patrons, as well as slow the spread of the virus by closing physical branches, they have not slowed their electronic support and services to customers. In fact, AACPL increased electronic services since it closed its physical doors.
Many county residents rely on libraries for education, entertainment and enrichment, and AACPL has taken steps to ensure content remained available and, in some cases, more accessible online than before the closure. According to AACPL’s marketing director, Christine Feldmann, the library has really stepped up its game since the coronavirus hit the local area. The majority of its services are easy to access through the library website in order to effectively accommodate isolated residents and residents practicing social distancing. Specifically, patrons can acquire a library card exclusively online, which was not a possibility before, and the library will not charge late fees during the closure period. Additionally, any locked library cards due to late fees or fines have been unlocked.
Right now, the AACPL website has digital material readily available for all ages and interests. According to Feldmann, the easiest way to take advantage of this material is to download library-contracted applications such as Cloud Library, Overdrive, or Libby for ebooks, and RB Digital or audiobooks by Tumblebooks for e-audiobooks to any personal device. Library patrons can also quickly and easily stream documentaries, movies or popular children’s shows through the Kanopy application or listen to music through the Naxos Music Library. The library’s digital collection also offers educational resources such as TumbleMath, a resource where students learn a variety of math concepts using animated picture books and lessons online.
Despite the branch closures, the library staff continues to find new ways to support the local community with its online presence. “In the next two weeks, the library will acquire $150,000 in digital material, acquiring new and more copies of popular content during this time of hardship,” Feldmann said.
In addition to the library’s digital collection, library staff maintains a social media presence, offering story time, movie discussions, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities streamed or hosted through Facebook and Zoom.