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How Public Libraries are Using Technology to Connect Readers

By: Jen Schneider

How Public Libraries are Using Technology to Connect Readers

As a teacher and a reader, I’ve missed a lot of things in the last few months since the pandemic began. I’ve missed my students, colleagues, and classrooms. Conferences have been postponed or cancelled, and the educational world seemed to instantly go online. These are things I would expect to miss, but one thing I really took for granted and didn’t realize how much I would miss is the public library. Remarkably, our libraries never stopped! In fact, libraries are now more accessible than ever as they have utilized technology to reach even more readers. Here are some ways public libraries are using technology to connect readers. 

Summer Programming

In the summer, the library is at least a weekly stop for my family and me. We are members of the Bellevue Public Library, and like many Nebraska libraries, their summer programming is top-notch. This year’s summer library program theme across the country is “Imagine Your Story”. Many libraries have taken the reading program online using Beanstack to track reading for families (adults and kids). Prizes are still rewarded digitally, with curbside pickup, or in-person with limited hours for some libraries. Go to your library’s website and see how you can register for summer programming. 

Zoom to the Library

Chances are you’ve participated in plenty of Zoom or Google Meet meetings in the last few months. Many libraries are connecting adults and children to programming via Zoom. For example, the Omaha Public Library (which is still closed to patrons at the time of this posting) is hosting frequent Virtual Wildlife Encounters Zooms where families can see cool animals and educational programming. In addition, Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason is hosting a Writer’s Workshop via Zoom through OPL. Check out programming for your local library (or other around the state) via Zoom.

Social Media

In addition to Zoom programming, many libraries are engaging readers via social media. Bellevue Public Library shared reading puzzles and contests via Facebook. Grand Island Public Library has daily activities ranging from book clubs to art lessons on their Facebook page. Follow your favorite public library on social media to see what’s happening online at your library!

Digital Books

If you’ve never checked out an ebook via your local library, you’re missing out! It’s so easy to download Libby or Overdrive and check out any book in the catalog! Some publishers are lifting limits on the numbers of certain digital titles that may be checked out during this time. I haven’t gone a day without having a digital novel or nonfiction read on my phone or tablet. The options are endless. See a title that’s not available? Join the waitlist, and as soon as it’s ready, you’ll get an email or notification on your phone, computer, or tablet. 

Get a Library Card

Even if you’ve never had a public library card or are new to the area, many libraries have made it easy to apply for a card online during this time. Some libraries are opening with limited hours, but this option is still available. The digital library card provides access to the online books, and for some libraries, allows you to reserve physical books online for curbside or in-library pickup.

Other Library Benefits

Our local libraries have been so accommodating with checkout times, late fees (as books could not be returned during March), and sharing online learning resources beyond just books. While you’re at home this summer, start to check out everything your public library has to offer. Even though we miss the hands-on art activities and the in-person read-alouds at our local library, my family is so grateful for the way our public libraries have continued to connect with readers using technology. 

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