Digital library is open 24-7 to serve the community

| March 20, 2020 1:00 AM

What a year this week has been! Even a few days ago, I would not have predicted that I would be writing this column from my home office, and that The Library would be closed indefinitely. Of course, library leaders are reviewing the current situation hourly to be ready to reopen when it is prudent to do so.

Earlier this week, as the news that we were closing started to sink in, staff reacted in various ways. For some, a natural reaction is humor and they brought some levity to tense situations. Others struggled to comprehend such a drastic decision. When a coworker got choked up talking about how worrisome it is that our patrons would not be able to access materials, internet, and the safe, social environment inside The Library, I couldn’t comfort her with a hug. That was tough.

And I can’t do much to comfort all of you who can’t come to The Library anymore for a while. I can’t even give you an idea of when we will reopen. One of our social media followers said it well, “What an unfortunate time to have to [close].”

There is some comfort in knowing where we stand. It is also helpful to be aware of alternatives. That is what I will discuss here today. Since we have canceled all library classes and events, I don’t have to leave room for the weekly schedule at the end of this article.

Where we stand:

The Sandpoint and Clark Fork Libraries and Bookmobile are closed until further notice. Physical materials can not be checked out, nor are they to be returned. All drop boxes have been locked. We are asking patrons to hold on to their materials until we announce that we will accept them. Due dates have been extended and there will be no late fines incurred while we are closed.

The alternatives:

While we can’t lend you any books, CDs, DVDs, games, and other physical materials while we are closed, we do have The Digital Library. You can download audiobooks, ebooks, and digital magazines and you can stream music, movies, and TV shows. For educational resources, use Scholastic Teachables, Learning Express Library, and more! You can even learn a new language, learn to fix your car, or study for your driving test from the Digital Library.

I know, books feel good in your hands, smell good, and don’t emit blue light. I know you want to flip actual pages in a magazine. Your DVD player is hungry for DVDs. You don’t have an adapter to listen to audiobooks in your car — you need books on CD. You wouldn’t begin to know how to stream music digitally — you need music CDs. I hear you. Change is so hard, especially when there is a learning curve involved.

Now may be the perfect time to press your comfort zone a bit and explore digital materials. You will find helpful tutorial videos and simple instructions for using many of the electronic versions of materials you are used to on our website. From the home page, look for the green “Tutorials” tab on the right side of the page to access Niche Academy. There you will find help using resources in the Digital Library, plus other tutorials on things like setting up your social media accounts.

No internet? You can still access the library’s wifi at the Sandpoint and Clark Fork Libraries from your car if you park close to the door.

If you have overdue items or your card has expired, you may be wondering if you will be able to access the digital library. We have taken steps to ensure that you can access the Digital Library if you have a local card. Unfortunately, those with Universal Cards will not be able to access many of the databases in the Digital Library. If you have overdue materials or an expired card and can not access the Digital Library, call us at (208)263-6930 and leave a message.

If you have reserved materials, they are on a shelf waiting for you to pick up when we reopen. We have disabled the online option to place holds while we are closed.

Homebound Services has been suspended for the safety of those patrons.

These are the basics of where we currently stand. However, you can stay up to date with any changes to our services by keeping an eye on our website, www.ebonnerlibrary.org. Updates are posted as things change. If you need to reach us, call (208)263-6930 and leave a message. We will respond as quickly as possible.

We miss you already. We hope you are safe and acclimating in your own way to this new home-based lifestyle. When all of this passes, we can look forward to opening our doors once again.