Although closed to the public to curb the spread of the coronavirus, libraries all over Nassau County are keeping readers engaged and entertained online during the pandemic. The Malverne, West Hempstead and Lakeview libraries have all kept up their programs for patrons.
While you may not be able to walk in right now, the staff at the Malverne Library is still working to keep patrons engaged in its remote services. The library’s virtual program includes a weekly STEM challenge for children as well as arts and crafts, and staff members are planning to hold Zoom chat rooms for patrons to talk with librarians. In addition, library staffers have made a concerted effort to contact older patrons to check on and, if necessary, assist them.
“Our main goal is to make sure everyone is staying safe, know how to get food safely and have some communication with others,” said adult librarian Cathy Wellikoff. “It’s amazing how appreciative most are that someone from the library is thinking of them and wants to give them an opportunity to chat. We’re finding it very heartwarming to reach out to them.”
Wellikoff said that she and her fellow staff members started making calls to older patrons shortly after public venues were closed in March. So far, the library has called more than 80 people.
“As time wears on we will probably call some patrons again to make sure they’re still holding up,” Wellikoff said. “The virus can take its toll in more ways than one.”
Topics of discussion among the staff and patrons, Wellikoff said, have included favorite TV shows, books and movies, where to see an Eagle’s nest nearby, favorite places to walk and how to handle packaged food safely.
For a full list of resources, visit the library’s website, www.malvernelibrary.org.
The West Hempstead Library is offering virtual programs as well, including Spanish vocabulary classes, legal consulting and remote fitness classes. There is also has a chat room in which patrons can share their pandemic experiences.
“It’s a learning curve for all of us, but we’re doing our part to reach out to the community,” said library Director Regina Mascia. “I know the people really want to come in here, and we know they love their books . . . but we can’t open until things are safe.”
Mascia added that she was pleasantly surprised to see the immediate interest in the facility’s virtual programs, especially its yoga and exercise classes. The fitness classes, she said, have drawn as many as 60 participants to a single session.
“My mother is one of them,” Mascia said. “She’s got a yoga mat in the living room, and she loves it. The registration is phenomenal, and I was shocked. I’m glad people are taking advantage of our programs. The staff is really working hard, and I’m really glad that things have taken off.”
Mascia also said that Roseanne Dorfman, the library’s program coordinator, was working to set up a virtual concert for patrons. Going forward, Mascia said, she hoped to maintain the library’s reading clubs. “Reading clubs are really important in West Hempstead, so we still want to provide them with something,” she said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed, and we know that our staff just wants to get back here.”
Patrons can register for virtual programs on the library’s website, www.whplibrary.org.
On the Lakeview Library website, parents and caregivers can use a list of online databases for students in kindergarten through high school to help keep them occupied at home. The library also has animated picture books called Tumblebooks. Librarians have regularly shared most of their programs, including yoga classes, the rainbow hunt, trivia challenges and story time on social media.
“Our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are allowing us to interact with patrons, and provide them with resources to help them through this time,” said librarian Ivy Reckson.
The library has also offered drawing classes, free dance lessons, virtual museum tours and an e-book streaming service. As well, it has shared free resources on mental health, fitness, Covid-19 testing sites, food pantries and counseling.
Patrons can access the library’s social media channels on its website, lakeview.nassaulibrary.org.