‘Virtual library fun’: Kern County Library closure doesn’t stop staff from providing services online

March 18, 2020 /

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kern County Library branches will be closed effective immediately at the direction of the Kern County Administrative Office and Kern County Department of Public Health.

“For the safety of the families we serve, all Kern County Library branches will be closed beginning Tuesday, March 17th through Monday, April 13th, 2020. All scheduled meetings, events, programs, or gatherings are cancelled until further notice,” the Kern County Library website says.

In order to continue offering Library services during the closure, Library staff will be shifting focus to existing online digital services and programming to the public.

Ariel Dyer, Library Associate at the Beale Memorial branch who leads regular activities such as morning story time for children and their parents in the children’s meeting area says much of the staff is working diligently to keep engagement alive on the Web and social media.

“We’re still here,” said Dyer from her home office, still available during regularly scheduled hours. “Staff are working from home for the most part and everyone – from librarians to aides – is pitching in doing what they do best, through virtual programming on social media.”

The Kern County Library’s official website currently features an extensive list of activities offered prior to the closures, along with some new featured additions.

“The way it’s going to work is that those of us that have that social media mindset will share that with supervisors so they can get in on it too,” said Dyer who encouraged the public to add regular visits to Library branch Facebook pages for livestream story time fun presented by familiar staffers, plus language learning, paper crafting and much more.

“The Ridgecrest and Tehachapi branches are doing really great things at their pages which everyone can visit. Even though things look a little bleak, there is so much good we’re discovering about our staff and community we wouldn’t have learned any other way.”

Dyer asks the public for patience as adapting to these changes make take a little time. But not to worry, there’s plenty to virtual library fun available now to keep kids (and adults) of all ages from getting bored during the extended break.

“There’s some technical gaps, but the branch supervisors are in charge of their Facebook pages and know the rudimentary procedures on how to connect with people online. They’re the ones who are brainstorming all the programming. It really is cool to see what people are coming up with right now creatively. We’re going to keep looking on the bright side here!”

Library cardholders and new visitors should be made aware of a number of important updates as of March 17th through April 13th including (but not limited to) the following:

– Extended due dates, and suspension of all book holds. The public is asked to hold on to all materials until branches reopen.

– Branch book drops are being emptied regularly; however, book donations are being discouraged so as to avoid overfilling.

– WiFi has been enabled 24/7 for all branches to allow people to access from their devices from their vehicle or within range of branch.

– Raised the limit on Library digital resources (including increased Hoopla check out allowances) with new digital items being ordered and added on a daily. All other digital resources are being promoted, especially those that support home-centered learning.

– E-library cards will be issued for Kern residents through a form on the website (KC Library staff will be vetting applicants,) to allow access to Library resources from home.

Visit Kerncountylibrary.org for an updated list and programming information.

Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.

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Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz is Project Coordinator and Reporter at Kern Sol News. He may be reached at matt@southkernsol.org.