The library doors are locked and the lights are off.
But the Okanagan Regional Library is still open for business in the virtual world, the only world where people can still come together while safely staying apart.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone in our community, and the library is committed to do everything we can to continue to serve the public during this period of social distancing,” said ORL Vernon branch head librarian Kristy Hennings.
The ORL is offering patrons and families a wide range of virtual programming. This includes an online information service at firstname.lastname@example.org and even a virtual reference chat service with librarians throughout the day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
“We opened the chat service as soon as we possibly could in direct response to Covid-19 to give people in the community an opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of our highly-trained staff,” said Hennings.
Children and families, by visiting www.orl.bc.ca/kids-teens, can easily access family activities with a literary focus, resources to help parents with their kids’ education at home, eBooks, digital audio, Tumble Books and Tumble Math. Families can also sign up to stream storytimes, coding and book clubs through your branch’s FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/okreglibraryVE
The ORL offers free access, from the comfort of your home, to numerous databases, such as Rosetta Stone, Lynda.com. and Ancestry.ca, that otherwise would cost money to use. For the duration of the library closure, Ancestry Library Edition can be accessed from home with your library card.
Patrons can also read eBooks, magazines and newspapers and listen to audiobooks.
The ORL has increased purchasing of eBook titles and publishers have reduced loan restrictions to allow more material to be readily available to readers. Publishers also removed restrictions on some titles, allowing for no limits on the number of checkouts.
All it takes is a library card to explore the ORL’s virtual world. And if you don’t have a library card, you can get one for free by making it online at https://www.orl.bc.ca/using-the-library/E-card-station.
The library also added a Covid-19 Information Resources section, with links to reputable and current resources of topics at http://www.orl.bc.ca/using-the-library/research/explore-your-topic/covid-19-information-updates. The topics include facts about Covid-19 in several different languages, public orders and notices, mental health and well being and talking to your children about Covid-19.
Peter Critchley is with the Okanagan Regional Library, Vernon branch