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Local libraries continuing to serve the public through coronavirus outbreak

Union file photo

Despite being closed to the public, local libraries are looking for creative ways to reach out to the public and continue to provide services through the coronavirus outbreak.
Union file photo Despite being closed to the public, local libraries are looking for creative ways to reach out to the public and continue to provide services through the coronavirus outbreak.
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A week into being closed to the public, local libraries in southeast Iowa are still aiming to serve their communities.

In Mt. Pleasant, Public Library Director Jeffrey Meyer said the library’s circulation was down just a little even with their building closed. The Mt. Pleasant Public Library is continuing to have a curbside pick up option for people along with the resources the library provides online.

“We have a system that has very limited contact between people. If you have reserves, we bring it out. It’s kind of like what you do with McNuggets at McDonalds except with library books instead,” Meyer said, explaining their delivery system.

In their first week closed to the public, the Mt. Pleasant Public Library saw 949 physical books and movies circulated, alongside 198 electronic books.

In addition to books and online resources, the library is also putting out video programming on their Facebook page. Meyer said the staff aim to put out one video for children and one for grown ups which will be like their regular programs except digital.

“The mission of the library is to provide knowledge and culture to the community, and it becomes even more important when there is an uncertain time. It’s important to have access to resources,” Meyer said.

Meyer added he hopes the library can help bring a sense of “normality” to people as they navigate through these uncertain times.

“Whether you are reading a serious non-fiction book on a serious subject or getting something as simple as a ‘Paw Patrol’ DVD for you kids, it’s important to do thing that are enriching and that give you the feeling of normal life,” Meyer added.

Bryna Walker, library director for Washington Public Library, echoed similar sentiments. Walker and her staff is mostly focused on making sure community members have access to online resources while print material circulation has temporarily stopped.

Walker explained that while the book drop has been closed in Washington, her staff is renewing books everyday and waiving fines until their doors can be reopened.

“We’re still here as a virtual library, we still have Bridges and Libby, and we’re here for questions and here to help navigate especially with home schooling,” Walker said, pointing to online collections library goers have access to. Walker also pointed to tutorials on the Washington Public Library’s Facebook as a good resource for people who need help learning how to navigate the online resources.

“It’s important for people of all ages to continue reading. One area we’re not able to reach right now who check out a lot of print is homebound people. If people have grandparents or parents who like to read, I’ve mentioned just to purchase books for them or maybe hook them up to Bridges, if they’re open to exploring a new way of consuming material. We’re here to help navigate all of that,” Walker added.