Staff at the Porter
County Public Library system (PCPLS) and the Westchester Public Library (WPL)
have ramped up digital services in response to COVID-19.
are closed, thousands of digital offerings remain, and staff are creating
new original online content and looking for creative ways to help patrons
while Indiana is under a shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of the
Curbside pick-up of
materials is no longer available at PCPLS out of concern for patrons and
staff, but a dramatic increase in digital resources has replaced it.
“We are adding
digital items fast and furious,” PCPLS Director Jesse Butz said. “We have
added nearly a million digital titles --well more than doubling our digital
offerings in less than one month. Plus, we continue to add new content every
week, focusing on options that can assist our community in this time of
Meanwhile, WPL is
also expanding online resources. “With patrons staying safe at home, we’ve
seen an increase of 33% in the use of digital materials, and I anticipate
that number to grow,” WPL Director Lisa Stamm said. “Staff are increasing
the offerings in our digital collections so that patrons have more to choose
PCPLS continues to
offer virtual programs for youth, teens, and adults, including: three
virtual storytimes a week, online versions of Summer Reading and 1,000 Books
Before Kindergarten through BeanStack, weekly nail art and pop culture talks
for teens, and adult craft programs such as bookmark making and rock
painting. Soon to come are virtual book clubs, discussion groups, and
concerts for adults.
“We’re excited for
our community to discover these new opportunities, free with a library card
through their very own Porter County Public Library System. We hope to see
you all soon Đ live on pcpls.org,” Butz said.
Stamm said WPL
staff have been hard at work on digital versions of WPL storytimes and
popular programs for kids such as Toddler Time, Baby Talk, and Stories and
Kicks for 4,5, and 6. These videos are available 24/7 on the WPL Facebook
page and YouTube channel.
“They are doing a
remarkable job, and I am proud of how they’re turning their imaginations
into videos. It takes time and patience to carefully plan, film, and edit a
video, and WPL staff are up to the task,” Stamm said.
WPL’s new Young
Adult Librarian Sionna Hartigan has also started an Instagram account for
WPL’s teen and tween patrons and is creating “Teen Book Tuesday” video book
Don’t have a card?
WPL cardholders can get a PCPLS card, or vice versa, per a reciprocal
borrowing agreement. The PCPLS has added an online option enabling residents
without a library card to receive a temporary virtual card granting
immediate access. WPL also continues issuing new cards and answering patron
questions via voicemail or the “Ask a Librarian” feature at wpl.lib.in.us
A list highlighting
digital library resources:
--Free WiFi: Both
libraries have left their free WiFi on for patrons to access from the
comfort of their cars in library parking lots.
from both PCPLS and WPL, a free streaming service for audiobooks, music, TV
shows, video and ebooks on smart devices.
There is usually a
limit on monthly borrows through Hoopla, but they have created a “Bonus
Borrows” collection with more than 1,000 titles due to COVID-19, so
borrowing those titles will not count toward patrons’ borrowing limits
through April 30.
available from both PCPLS and WPL, a digital service that provides access to
eMagazines and audiobooks.
Butz said in a
release that RBDigital has been available at PCPLS for years, but access has
been dramatically expanded from 100 eMagazine titles to 3,500. For
audiobooks, 6,000 adult titles and 2,000 child and young adult titles have
through PCPLS, a free service that includes movies, documentaries, foreign
films, classic cinema, independent films and educational videos available on
opportunities from PCPLS include Acorn TV, IndieFlix, and Pongalo Spanish TV
for movies, television, and documentaries and Great Courses and Learn It
Live for adult learning experiences on a variety of topics.
--Creative Bug: a
new option at PCPLS, access to thousands of art and craft classes including
videos, templates, and recipes.
available through PCPLS, patrons can learn music from master musicians using
video lessons at their own pace.
resources from PCPLS include Method Test Prep for the SAT and ACT, Hoonuit
Device Software Training for learning software applications, and Universal
Class, which provides access to more than 500 general learning or continuing
education courses in more than 30 areas.
Access to academic
databases, Rosetta Stone language learning, consumer reports, newspaper
archives, standardized test prep, and more is available through WPL’s
Virtual Library via INSPIRE, the Indiana State Library’s collection of
The PCPLS is
acquiring a “Zoom Room” that will be available for patrons to check out. The
Zoom Room is a digital meeting room that will be open for bookings in
two-hour time slots during normal operating hours through the PCPLS regular
booking system. Patrons will be able to host up to 300 people in the PCPLS
PCPLS will also
start hosting virtual programs that will accommodate up to 100 attendees at
a time through Zoom.
WPL may start
live-streaming programs in addition to producing prerecorded programs on
Both libraries hope
to implement curbside pickup, using appropriate social distancing measures,
once it is safe to do so.