Library branches may be closed, but Kent District Library staff has been hard at work behind the scenes.
“We have people doing [online] programming pretty consistently,” says Sandy Graham, regional manager of the Alto and Englehardt (Lowell) branches of the library system. That has meant activities are available almost daily for local families to enjoy, from livestreamed yoga to bedtime stories.
Library staff has also been using their time at home to participate in training webinars and prepare for the summer reading program and activities, all of which will go on as scheduled through a virtual format. Plus, Kent District Library is working to update its strategic plan. The system is currently gathering public input regarding the services people use and what they’d like to see offered at their local branch.
Summer Reading Program Moves Online
Although the current stay-at-home order for Michigan is set to expire at the end of April, the library is preparing for the possibility that life might not return to normal by summer.
“All our summer programming will be virtual,” Graham explains. That means programs and classes will be offered online, and Graham says the next edition of the KDL Kaleidoscope, which typically outlines area events, may be an activity book instead.
The summer reading program, which launches in June, will also be online. However, that won’t be much of a change for some patrons. For the past several reading programs, Kent District Library has allowed participants to log-in their books through an online portal.
As for the Let It Snow winter reading program, the deadline for logging in books has been extended until April 30. Those who read at least at least six books will be able to pick up a mug as a prize once the branches reopen.
Virtual Library Resources to Use At-Home
While people can’t check out physical books from the library right now, Graham says there are plenty of other ways to utilize the system’s services from home. Patrons can do all the following:
- Borrow ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines through OverDrive
- Listen to music through Freegal
- Watch TV and movies through Hoopla
- Access the Ancestry Library Edition from home until April 30
- Take online classes through Lynda.com
- Learn a foreign language through Mango Languages or Little Pim
- Enjoy animated, talking picture books through TumbleBooks
Plus, the library gives its patrons access to a vast number of resources through the Michigan eLibrary. These include information on home repairs and hobbies and crafts as well as test preparation services for college entrance exams.
Many of these services require users have a KDL library card, which is available for free to residents in the system’s service area. If you don’t have a card, you can apply for one online.
Library Seeks Public Input for Strategic Plan
In addition to moving programs online, library staff have been preparing to update the Kent District Library strategic plan. The plan, which is reviewed every five years, helps shape the type of services and resources offered by the system. The last plan included an emphasis on early reading skills and promoting local history, Graham says.
To better understand how people use the library and what services they’d like, the library is seeking public input. A short online survey is available for those who live in the community, and even those who are not current library patrons are invited to participate. The first 1,000 people to respond will receive their choice of either a KDL book bag or mug once the branches reopen.
As for when those branches reopen, Graham says it’s likely staff will go back to work first before buildings are opened to the public. Book return drop boxes are currently closed due to health concerns, and the due date on checked out material has been extended to May 1.
For more information about Kent District Library events and services, visit the KDL website and Facebook page. There are also separate Facebook pages for both the Englehardt (Lowell) branch and the Alto branch of the system.