Northland libraries promote virtual use

During these pandemic times, Mid-Continent Public Library is embracing a virtual format, Community Specialist Emily Brown said.

Currently, the system of more than 30 libraries is slated to remain closed through at least April 24, Director and CEO of MCPL Steve Potter added.

"The library is continuing to closely monitor the recommendations of public health officials and will make additional decisions as needed to ensure the health and safety of both staff and customers," Potter added.

Though the system is closed, Brown said there are "tons" of digital resources and a few new things to help customers during the closure such as virtual programs. These programs include storytimes, business programs, and Story Center programs via social media.

MCPL is also adding to the digital collection including 5,000 new children's eBook titles and books that can be checked out by an unlimited number of users. Also accessible to library card holders are resources through the MCPL website. Some resources have expanded their offerings like Ancestry which is allowing public libraries to give remote access to Ancestry Library Edition through April.

"Between March 16 and 25 alone, there were nearly 2,000 new users on OverDrive, which is an app that our customers use to access our eBooks and eAudiobooks," Potter said. "To help accommodate this growing need, the library has been expanding its digital collection ... We've also seen a growing number of folks tuning in to our 'virtual events' on our social media pages and we expect to soon see an increase in the use of our online educational resources as students continue their studies at home."

As a community organization, Potter said since closing the biggest struggle is coming up with creative ways to continue serving their communities from a distance. Thought the virtual programs have been successful, Potter said it isn't a replacement to the joy of an actual visit and that the system staff can't wait to re-open as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We miss you!" Potter said to community members in an email. "While we can't see you in-person right now, we can support you virtually. Please use our digital resources — whether you are looking to stream movies or music for entertainment, some resources to help support your child's schoolwork at home, or some career guidance ... We're here for you and we are in this together."

To get a library card, visit mymcpl.org/NewCard. For help using resources, email info@mymcpl.org.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.​