Library coping with COVID

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Monett branch expanding digital offerings

The Monett Branch Library is making moves to keep up with the changing times, offering more online and virtual programming and options for community residents.

The library has continued offering its arts and crafts courses, but in light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, organizers have had to get creative with their planning.

“There are different ways we’re having to adjust,” said Greg Brown, library marketing director. “Instead of running regular arts and crafts, we are doing one-on-one instruction so that we don’t have a lot of people together in one space. We are taking that very seriously.”

While the library continues offering its traditional book and movie lending, via in-person browsing and pick-up, it is also ramping up its digital offerings, giving patrons an opportunity to continue borrowing without having to risk public exposure.

“We’ve had a total explosion of online resources,” Brown said. “We never thought we would do so many online media borrows.”

The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library offers two online media services that allow patrons to check out digital books, audio books, movies and music.

Through the Hoopla app, library patrons can use their library card to check out up to eight titles each month. Books checked out on Hoopla will appear on a patrons cell phone or tablet for 21 days before it must be checked out again. Music can be borrowed for up to one week, and movies and television shows are available for three days once checked out.

Before the pandemic, the library limited digital borrows to five titles per person, per month.

“We’ve been tweaking it so people aren’t running out of borrows,” Brown said.

The library pays a fee to Hoopla for each title that is borrowed through the app. Brown said the library is billed based on the value of each title that is checked out.

Another app the library uses to encourage virtual check-outs is Libby.

Brown said the Hoopla app operates more like a streaming service, while Libby is more of a traditional library lending service where the library purchases titles that are of interest to patrons, then lends them out.

Brown said both digital options have been popular with library patrons, and if someone is looking for a title that isn’t available on one, they can generally find it on the other app.

“We do have less people coming into the library, but our circulation is still up,” Brown said. “Our libraries are important, and that importance is as evident as ever.”

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