In March 2020, the Flossmoor Public Library was getting ready to go fine free. We were adding to our collection, to introduce Play-aways, because they had not really been a heavily requested item by our patrons until that winter. We had great in-person programming and a wide collection of materials to check out, both in person and electronically. We were introducing board games to give variety to our collection.
Then…we had to pivot. We needed to reach our patrons from afar. We needed to check in with them and meet their needs, all while trying to figure out how to safely meet our own needs. Therefore, we did what countless other libraries did. We adapted.
We ordered and activated more hotspots to circulate, first through curbside, then through a combination of curbside and in-house checkouts. We added even more Play-aways. We did go fine free…but then again, almost all libraries were fine free during this time! However, we did make a policy for the fine free practice to remain, even when COVID becomes a memory. We increased our orders of new materials, to be able to meet the demands of our patrons before sharing among other libraries was restarted.
We started offering Kanopy. We were interested in this before the pandemic, but it took a pandemic for us to realize its value! Now, our cardholders can access countless movies for both adults and children. They can also access documentaries, instructional videos and an entire library of educational series.
We introduced and built a collection of STEM toys and activities, focused on kids aged 3-5. We then added even more, thanks to our Friends group, to include STEM toys and kits for kids up to age 12. We realized, and our patrons were not afraid to share with us, their need to have materials in their households for an entire school population that found themselves all homeschooling. There was no longer an option for many in our community. They would be e-learning from home and the students and parents needed to make it work. They would need reading materials. They would need crafts, activities and more food in their house! While we can recommend many local and ongoing food giveaways to our patrons, we could not check food out to them. (Wait, can we?) So we addressed what we could do to help them.
We created “grab and go” crafts kits. We created online story times. We borrowed what we could from our fellow library neighbors and made it work for our population. This time made me appreciate my fellow library workers! We continued to rise above and meet needs (and sometime demands!) head on. We shared. We recommended. We collaborated. We worked as a community, to ensure the success of all of us.
So what is my library? My Library is…ready. My Library is…adaptive. My Library is…essential.
Jamie Paicely, Director, Floosmoor Public Library