During this unprecedented time and as we all practice safe, social distancing, we want you to know that your Poudre River Public Libraries are here for you.
Library staff are stepping up right now in ways you might not even realize. While some of our work is visible on our website and social media platforms, much of it is happening behind the scenes and alongside community partners. And, all of it is aimed at serving you in new and innovative ways.
“We want our community to know that we’re here for you,” says David Slivken, Executive Director, Poudre River Public Library District. “Though the way we work may change, our commitment remains strong: to enrich our community by providing universal access to resources for knowledge, innovation, and enjoyment.”
Since our buildings closed in mid-March, we’ve been busy bringing many library services to you at home. Here are just a few of the activities that are happening so that you can stay connected to accurate information, important resources, and fun entertainment.
Increased Access to Resources and Materials
Even though the library buildings are closed, the digital collection and online resources are still available, 24/7.
For many people, this was the first time they ever accessed eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, and other digital materials. Our librarians are busy assisting people with questions about downloading and streaming items on their PCs, tablets, and smartphones.
We saw a significant increase in the number of “new users” to download services like hoopla, OverDrive, and RB Digital. In the first two weeks after the closure (March 15-30), new users of hoopla increased 110% over the same time last year, and new OverDrive users grew by a whopping 431% compared to the previous year!
“In the past weeks, we’ve been rapidly adapting our digital services for even greater at-home access and identifying ways to support remote learning, teaching, and researching,” says Tova Aragon, Collection Development Manager.
With the increased demand for digital materials, our Collection Development team has been busy ordering and expanding our digital resources to increase the variety and quantity of titles available. And, they’ve been doing this from home! The team has filled in popular series, increased copies of titles to reduce hold wait times, and increased check out limits.
The Collections Development Team continues to work to open up more databases and online research resources for at-home access and to add new digital resources for temporary, free access like TumbleMath, TeenBookCloud, and AudioBookCloud.
Temporary Library Cards and Instant Access
To better support individuals, families, and students who don’t have a Poudre River Public Library card, we opened up our Temporary Cards to provide access to our digital download services and premium eResources.
In the first three weeks after closing the buildings, nearly 300 temporary cards were issued to individuals, 28% of whom were students.
The length of time available to use a temporary card has been extended through at least August 30, 2020 to ensure people have access to the digital Library until we are able to reopen our doors.
During a typical week at the libraries, library storytellers host more than 30 storytimes across the District and in the community. With the closures, storytellers have gone virtual, delivering online storytime activities by video. New videos go live throughout the week and many are available in Spanish.
The Library’s YouTube Channel features a “Virtual Storytime” playlist which also includes read-alouds from local community helpers like Poudre Fire Authority Fire Chief DeMint and Fort Collins Police Deputy Chief Greg.
Small Business and Employment Assistance
Our Business, Nonprofit, and Career Development Librarians have been extremely busy during this time, not only assisting local business owners, nonprofit agencies, and job seekers, but answering the call for help from the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
The State Office has seen an overwhelming number of inquiries from Colorado small business owners seeking accurate information about the CARES Act, unemployment, IRS tax requirements, grants and funding resources, and much more. Our business and nonprofit specialists are answering questions, in both English and Spanish, and directing people to the critical resources or information they need.
“Our aim is quick response time in helping the Colorado community,” explains Matthew West, Business Librarian at the Library District. “This is a critical time and new information can have small business owners looking for answers. So many of our Colorado community members are surprised to find the resources and expertise that Poudre Libraries offer.”
Ask-a-Librarian and Remote Reference Help
Librarians continue to provide reference services to our community remotely via our digital assistance services. Librarians are staffing the Ask-a-Librarian service, and our Answer Center and other key staff are helping to answer a variety of questions, many around how to access the Library’s digital collections from home.
K-12 Remote Learning Resources
When Poudre School District (PSD) decided to move to remote learning, more than 30,000 students found themselves at home navigating new methods for learning and interacting with their teachers.
The Library District worked with PSD to ensure teachers, students, and families could easily access online learning and teaching resources from home and could sign up for a temporary library card if they didn’t already have one.
New digital learning services like TumbleMath were added to the Library’s vast resources for K-12 homework help, research, and eLearning tools, and many teachers have been taking advantage of educational films and videos available through the Library’s Films on Demand and Kanopy.
Spanish Language Community Resources and Services
The Library’s Community Services team is busy producing and translating important information into Spanish for our community. They have shared key information and resources about the 2020 Census, filing for unemployment, obtaining small business loans, navigating the immigration process, finding jobs, and much more. As you can imagine, these tasks have become even more critical during the COVID-19 crisis.
To share this information as widely as possible, we’re making use of the Library’s YouTube Channel. All of the Spanish-language videos are available in the playlist, “Servicios y Recursos para la Comunidad.”