Leading the Library through a pandemic is not something I trained to do. It has been stressful and at times has seemed dark. But with two vaccines approved, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. While the pandemic has been tough, it has created a path to some innovations that I am excited to see continue. Many positive changes have been made to meet the needs of Boone County, and they are here to stay.
In March 2020, when the Library shut its doors, we had to pivot to an all virtual/digital organization to serve the community. In order to provide the Library’s resources to those without a library card, we created the Temporary Card. The Temporary Card has gone through several iterations before we landed on the current version and decided the temporary card needed to stay after the pandemic. After all, how many of us needed access to resources after waiting till the last minute on a project. The Temporary Card immediately grants temporaryaccess to digital resources and provides a maximum check-out of 5 physical items at a time. The card expires after 6 months.
I have heard from so many people in the community how much curbside has been appreciated during the pandemic. From parents with small children asleep in the back seat to people with mobility issues, this is a service that has been well used. Curbside will continue at the Main Library, Scheben Branch, Florence Branch, Walton Branch, and Chapin Memorial Library. The Hebron Branch will continue to offer the drive through window and the 24/7 locker system in the vestibule. Using Curbside is easy and the details can be found in Touchless Curbside Pick-up is Available!
Virtual Programming has allowed the Library to continue offering lifelong learning activities from home for all ages. In conversations with people in the community, I have discovered that many prefer the virtual programming because they are too tired to visit the Library after a busy day at work. So moving forward, the Library plans to offer both in-person and virtual programming for all ages.
Reading Recommendations and Book Bundles
When we reopened in May 2020, we could only offer curbside pick-up. Many people told us that they missed browsing the shelves in the library and stumbling upon the next good read. Although BCPL already offered Reading Recommendations, the service grew in popularity. After you complete the form with as much detail as possible, our readers’ advisory staff create a personalized reading list for you. Book Bundles offers a similar solution for children and teens. Youth Services staff choose up to ten books for you and your children to enjoy. We discovered that although we are open to the public, Reading Recommendations and Book Bundles remain popular.
Student Digital Access Card
As we counted down to the start of the 2020/2021 school year, Youth Services staff worked with Boone County middle and high schools offering a card to every student which grants them access to all of the Library’s Digital resources. This card belongs to the student until graduation from the school district and allows them access to information and books they need for school. And best of all—there are no fines on digital items or resources.
When school resumed in August, many parents and caregivers moved to homeschooling their child(ren). Homeschoolers were using the Book Bundles, but found that it did not fit their needs. So Homeschool Collections were created. A Homeschool Collection is a bundle of children’s books and media selected by a BCPL librarian to supplement your curriculum. Collections are available for Boone County homeschoolers and each collection contains up to 20 items to check out for three weeks.
The Library has partnered with the City of Florence to create a Wide-Area Mesh Network to get Wi-Fi to households in the community that do not have an internet connection. The first stage of the project called for the Library to bolster the Wi-Fi signal surrounding our six locations by increasing the indoor access points and installing outdoor Wi-Fi access points. Think of each library location sitting in the center of a circle with a 1,000 foot diameter where the secure Wi-Fi network is available. The second stage of the project called for the Library to share this signal with partners in the community. A Wi-Fi access point has been mounted at the Historic Firehouse along with a fiber optic internet line. The Library’s circle now touches the circle at the Historic Firehouse, each with a diameter of 1,000 feet. Together these two circles reach about 200 households in the Florence area. Eventually, additional access points will be daisy-chained out to create a larger network of access. The network acts as if the user is actually in the Library, so it is secure with content filters as well as security encryption in place to stop hackers. The Wide-Area Mesh Network is an effort to reduce the digital divide in our community making necessary and social connections a little less stressful.