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League of California Cities

From Cooking Classes to Printing Shields, City Libraries Adapt Services During Pandemic

Libraries are a staple of the community and many residents depend on them to check out books and movies, participate in enrichment programs, and have a quiet place to read, work, or study. With COVID-19 disrupting all aspects of community life, including stay-at-home orders and a shift to virtual education, libraries have transformed their services to provide as many resources as they can to communities, including resources not typically associated with libraries.
 
In Burlingame, city libraries have expanded their online programing to include virtual cooking sessions where the community is invited to try a specific recipe in advance and then share the results, challenges, and successes with fellow residents over zoom.
 
Since March 16, the Burlingame city libraries have provided access to more than 500 online education courses, hosted more than 40 virtual programs, such as family fun nights featuring magicians and ventriloquists, and held 36 online story times in English and Mandarin.
 
Cities such as San Bernardino adjusted their summer reading program so that children, teens, and adults can log their reading minutes online. Once they have met a predetermined benchmark, prizes are available for pick up at the local library. Every week the library goes live on their Facebook page with engaging digital programs. Families can pick up program kits from the library in advance with all of the materials needed for the online session.
 
The Long Beach library hosts virtual craft events, virtual story times, and virtual science Saturdays for children, teens and adults. Videos of the programs are posted on the library’s YouTube channel. The library also launched a new local history podcast that “explores the fascinating — and sometimes unbelievable — stories that have helped make Long Beach the great and unique city it is.” The library website says “Buckle up!  This is not your grandmother's local history podcast!”
 
To help with the transition to distance learning, the San Jose Library offers educational resources that are “available online, 24/7.” Parents have the opportunity to access online story times, crafts for their children, and access to eBooks their children will love. The website also offers children the opportunity to participate in online tutoring and many other free educational resources. Teens can easily access resources through the website to help them prepare for various exams such as the SAT and ACT, tips on staying healthy, and best practices for online learning.
 
The San Jose and Burlingame libraries are not only helping their community by establishing online educational support, they are using their time and resources to help provide first responders with important resources during the pandemic.
 
Library staff in both cities have put their 3D printers to good use by printing personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Burlingame library created 288 pieces of PPE (face shields and ear guards) to help keep frontline workers safe during the pandemic. The San Jose library staff is printing an estimated 200 face shields per week, donating more than 1,800 to the Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. The library also has a supply of sewing machines, which some of the San Jose librarians used to sew 310 masks, which they donated to HomeFirst to be distributed to individuals experiencing homelessness in Santa Clara County.
 
During this unsettling time city libraries’ creative programming and resourcefulness helped Californians stay connected, sharp, and engaged, and helped support our first responders stay safe. Thanks to our city librarians is long overdue. 
© League of California Cities