This National Library Week has been like no other, as we grapple with the challenging impact that COVID-19 has had on our libraries, communities and the world.
Libraries have always been on the front line, addressing societal and community challenges, and during the current pandemic we are working to support our community with a priority on education equity and providing resources to those hardest hit.
As libraries around the country have pivoted to provide more online services to support those sheltering at home, we’ve also come up with innovative ways to help those coping with more obstacles. With visits to our physical branches no longer possible, our website, which is our virtual branch, has taken center stage as a vital communication source and link to online resources. We’ve been redesigning the website to make it easier to find answers to the most pressing questions, provide new information on surviving the pandemic, and highlight digital resources most in demand.
The Marin County Free Library System has pitched in to help provide support to first responders, health care workers and essential workers by operating a pop-up 21st century learning and child care center at the South Novato Library, staffed by our library workers. The center provides distance learning support, meals, and a safe place for 6th-12th grade students, and adheres strictly to the COVID-19 guidelines created by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Partnering with Marin County, Marin Community Foundation, Marin Promise Partnership and local school districts, the Library is building on our existing program of providing WiFi hotspots to students without access to the Internet. We have expanded this effort during the pandemic by coordinating the distribution of 780 additional WiFi hotspots so that students can participate in distance learning and continue their education.
Library staff members from Marin City Library embedded at Bayside Martin Luther King Jr Academy have distributed WiFi hotspots and Chromebooks to students, bagged food for the food bank distribution, and reached out to families in the after-school programs Smarty Ants and Reading Buddies to check in to see how the kids are doing and if they need any support.
The Marin County Free Library was able to serve up books for kids during lunch distribution at Hill Education Center and Hamilton School in Novato recently. With a generous $350 donation from First Book and New York Life, South Novato Library sought a matching grant from the Friends of the Novato Libraries and purchased almost 800 books, including bilingual titles.
Families were thrilled to get books. One parent, who primarily spoke Spanish, told library staffers that she ran out of books long ago and was so happy that she could just take some for her kids.
The “Book Bistro” was also appreciated by NUSD Assistant Superintendent Amie Carter: “As our students face the challenges of this time, it gives me great comfort to know that—thanks to the generosity of our community—so many of our students now have the company of new literary friends. This gift is broader than simply the book itself; it is the comfort of imagination, wonder, escape, and hope that lies in the pages of these books. I have no doubt this kindness will long be remembered and cherished by our students.”
The Library is committed to helping our community remain strong and helping those in need to build the skills they need. To help provide resources for those looking to increase education, development and job skills, we’ve brought back Lynda.com, an online source for learning with access to over 8,000 courses (and over 255,000 videos) in popular fields like web design, web development, IT, education/instruction, media production, and business.
How can you help the library support your community?
The Marin County Library Foundation makes a difference in enabling the Library to perform this important work. The Foundation has recently updated their vision to focus on helping the Marin County Free Library continue to grow into an equitable and innovative library system. They have helped make it possible to fund projects like the 3rd Grade Reading Literacy Gap Program, the Bayside Marin Luther King Jr. Academy, as well as supporting student distance learning through the WiFi hotspot project.
Your support of the Foundation goes directly back into the community through the library’s outreach and projects.
The Friends of the Marin County Free Library are the other source of support for Library projects that promote learning and literacy for all, including the Summer Learning Challenge that helps kids combat the summer slide, and programming for all ages to provide lifelong learning opportunities.
We love to hear from you and learn how we can serve you better. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us using our online contact form.