O.C. Library Still Keeping Patrons Engaged — Virtually

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEThis week is National Library Week and the theme chosen by the American Library Association is “find your place at the library.”Jennifer Shirk, president of the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees, observed that there is much irony to that.But then again, she noted, “Who would have predicted a pandemic where a majority of libraries would be forced to close their doors?”The Ocean City library has a solution to the temporary closure of the building amid the COVID-19 pandemic.“The library is offering virtual adult programming such as book clubs, French and Spanish classes, children’s puppet shows, movies, eBooks and music,” Shirk said. “Our library has provided links through Microsoft and Digital Learn to help people expand their digital ‘literacy’ during this time when it’s most needed.”Through the library website, www.oceancitylibrary.org, patrons can access Hoopla, an online library where they can download books, audiobooks, music, movies and even fitness workouts.Patrons will continue to have a plethora of books, music, games, and even children’s puppet shows to keep them entertained and lift the spirits of all those who miss going to the library at 1735 Simpson Avenue.“I’m very proud of our library and its entire staff for coming up with so many innovative ways to stay connected and serve our community during this unprecedented time,” Shirk said.She continued, “We worked with the schools before they closed to make sure all students have access to databases and student resources for their schoolwork.”In addition to the array of ways people can still get their daily dose of the library, patrons are also able to access Heritage Quest so they can learn more about their ancestry.“I’m sure a lot of people have always wanted to do that but never had the time. Well, now they do,” Shirk said with a laugh.While patrons can’t visit the library amid the pandemic, many of the books, eBooks, music and more are available online.Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the indefinite shutdowns and cancellations shuttered what is ordinarily a hub of activity within the Ocean City Community Center.Looking for other ways to reach the public, library staff turned to social media.The library’s Facebook page has a wide range of information to engage the community, hosting a weekly “What’s on my Shelf.” People can share what they’re reading in the weekly event.The library has also highlighted books and posts interactive questions to engage with patrons as well. And this past Easter the library shared various spring crafts that children had made at home.“Fortunately, libraries, and especially our library, are showing patrons you can still find your place there — but from home,” Shirk pointed out.Both Shirk and Karen Mahar, the library director, are making it a point, through email blasts to patrons, advertising and social media, to get the word out that the library is continuing to provide everything it did prior to the shutdown, only it is coming to the patrons, rather than the other way around.Fines for overdue books and other materials will not be accrued during this time. The library asks patrons to hold onto their library materials until it reopens. Nor is the library accepting donations at this time, Mahar said.“While our physical doors are closed, my staff has continued to work to remain connected to our community,” Mahar continued.The library is offering patrons an Instant Digital Card (IDC) through Overdrive on the library website. It uses the zip code attached to the patron’s cell phone bill.Patrons must receive their bills in Ocean City. This allows a patron access to the digital collection.Library staff is in the process of putting together questions to post on Facebook throughout the week to get patrons’ feedback on how they are using the library while they are in quarantine and how the library can better serve them, as well as some fun questions, Mahar said.“My staff is constantly exploring new and innovative ways to remind our community that their library is here for them,” she said. “I’m very lucky to work with such a supportive and talented library staff. We are all in this together.”For more information and offerings from the Ocean City Free Public Library visit www.oceancitylibrary.org.The hope is that sooner than later the library will be open to patrons. The library is closed, but there is still an abundance of materials for patrons to enjoy digitally. (Photo credit Ocean City Free Public Library) last_img read more

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