Public libraries expand online services

Apr 12, 2020

Dartmouth’s libraries may be closed, but that doesn’t mean its services are. 

As the statewide closure to stop the spread of Covid-19 continues, the town’s libraries have since expanded their many online services to meet their patrons’ needs. 

“We can’t offer our physical materials, but we can offer the digital resources,” Director of Libraries Lynne Antunes said. 

Antunes and her staff have made it so library cardholders can use digital media streaming service Hoopla to check out additional e-books and audiobooks, movies, TV shows, and music. Members can also use the genealogy website for free, along with the library’s research and learning databases.

In addition to expanding its online catalog, the Dartmouth Public Library also offers a page dedicated to coronavirus information.

“That’s what we do as librarians,” North Branch Librarian Sharani Robins said. “We’re trying to serve people all of their informational needs.”

For those without a library card, Robins said there is now the option to apply online. Once libraries are reopened, patrons can get their physical cards.

Youth programs have also made the jump to online. Twice a week, Children’s Librarian Christie Phillips and her teen advisory group use Zoom to provide a virtual storytime for children. Along with the readings, Phillips also plans to bring her program of songs for babies to Zoom every Wednesday.

She originally planned to host the Baby Songs program on Facebook Live, but would rather be able to see who remains viewing the stream. She also was worried about any copyright strikes, as she uses songs from a variety of sources.

Robins attributes the quick shift to online services to collaboration not just among library staff, but also among other libraries to see how they have adapted to the current times — often taking that framework and adding their own spin to it.

“This is the thing about us librarians, we’re really good researchers,” Robins said.