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How Libraries Are Adapting During The Pandemic

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The quarantine has changed everything, but one of the biggest hits is our libraries. Normally a source of information, entertainment, and education, our libraries can no longer operate in the same way. That doesn't mean they're not out there working hard for readers, though, and it's fascinating to see how libraries are encouraging readers during the pandemic.

Librarians are the original educational chameleon dating all the way back to Alexandria. Hear me out. They adapted from being the keepers of science and moderators of philosophy to curators of thought and later, then became the ambassadors of information and literature. As times changed, they became internet gurus, citizenship heroes, and language assistants, all while they still pointed children to their next favorite book. The pandemic has proven that when things change, no one is more capable to adapt than librarians.

The first email I received about their pandemic plans was from my local Brooklyn Public Library, detailing how I could best use their online lending services, where to download anything I might need, and a list of the planned readings and forums that they were going to be doing virtually. It was a bright spot in a very dark time for New York City, and honestly, it was very welcome.

1. Pima County, Arizona

The Pima County librarians in Arizona are going all-out for their patrons. From helping to provide snacks to kids who need it and boxes of veggies for their adult patrons, they are also doing Facebook Live broadcasts with readings and music and skills learning, as well as curating reading lists to help frazzled parents.

2. Transylvania County, North Carolina

Many libraries are now offering curbside pick-up, and Transylvania County in North Carolina has it down to an art. You reserve your book and time slot, and then you go and pick them up. What a glorious idea. It's available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and libraries across the country have similar services, so check your local branch.

3. School Help In New York City

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The New York Public Library has been providing remote learning resources for students and educators, as well as free tutoring, reading resources like online literacy programs, and curated lists for readers young and not so young. Our city is facing a reckoning that no one anticipated, and the library stepped up and said, "We can help."

4. Kindergarten Club

The Cleveland Public Library is offering virtual Kindergarten Club for kids getting ready for their first real year of school. Reading skills, behavior skills, and other important pieces of preparation are involved.

5. Reading Challenges

One of the most popular programs happening at libraries right now are online reading challenges through Beanstack, the Messenger Public Library in Aurora, Illinois among them. Prizes are given out, with stickers and badges aplenty. Oh, and it's not just for kids, so fellow BookIt! program veterans, it's time.

6. Los Angeles, California

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For parents who just can't figure out where to go next, LA County Library is offering "Ask A Librarian" services to the public. Need a good reading program? They'll know. Need to understand what the heck those reading levels mean? Yup, they can do that, too. They are patient heroes, the lot of them.

Most of these services in this list are repeated in various forms throughout the country, and honestly, I never expected anything less from librarians. They get a bad rep for being nerdy rule followers, but anyone who has ever heard a librarian talk about banning books or refusing undocumented immigrants access to their services knows what they really are: superheroes.