This month’s Library Letter, published at lebtown.com is from Michelle Hawk, Director of the Lebanon Community Library and Administrator for Lebanon County Libraries.

On March 13, something happened as I left the Lebanon Community Library that I didn’t think would happen until I retired: I cried. The order to close all public libraries in Pennsylvania had come through right at the end of the day that Friday, and I had returned to make arrangements for the library to be closed for the next two weeks. The quiet building with its empty chairs, dark computers, and rows of bookshelves without anyone browsing held a special meaning now, that we would not be a gathering place for our community for some time.

However, over the next few days, I was reminded of just how strong and resourceful our community is. The brainstorming began, not just in our library but among the libraries in Lebanon County, across the state, and other local organizations. We pivoted quickly to do everything we could to help our community through this pandemic and come out the other side even stronger, more caring, and more resourceful than we were before.

Our libraries had one goal in mind as we went about adapting to our new situation: access to information, for everyone, as best we possibly can. We gathered all of our electronic resources, made sure they were accessible to everyone, and took to social media. If we couldn’t have storytimes, discussions about books, show people how to apply for unemployment, get a library card, complete the Census etc. in person, then we’ll do it online!

Although you can’t visit the library in person right now, here’s what you can do:

  • Get a library card! A card is needed to access most of our electronic resources, but if you didn’t have one before the pandemic, don’t worry! Just visit this page and choose “Click here to sign up for a card” and you’ll get immediate access to our resources.
  • Borrow books and audiobooks through the eLibrary. You’ll need your library card, but we removed the need for a PIN in case you had forgotten yours. Visit this page and click on “Borrow ebooks & eaudiobooks” or go directly to the Overdrive portal here. We’ve stepped up purchasing to keep you well-supplied during the pandemic!
  • Access other electronic resources like:
    • ReferenceUSA: Find jobs, business opportunities, companies nationwide, addresses and phone numbers, and view historical market trends.
    • TumbleBooks: Access children’s picture books, graphic novels, books for teens, and even some romance novels!
    • Newsbank: Access newspapers from local, state, and national sources.
    • ValueLine: Find reliable financial information.
    • POWER Library resources: A vast collection of resources provided to all libraries in PA.
  • Use the library’s wifi. As far as is possible, our libraries have made their wifi available 24/7. Wifi is usually accessible from the libraries’ parking lots and grounds – but please maintain social distancing.
  • Watch our storytime staff (and some other staff too!) hold storytimes on Facebook. Follow our libraries’ pages to see all updates.

All library information may be found at www.lclibs.org. For questions, please email info@lclibs.org or your local library directly. Be sure to follow the Lebanon County Library System on facebook, along with the individual libraries. We’re posting storytimes, educational information, library services, health information, and fun stuff daily.

Look for the announcement of our 2020 Lebanon County Reads title on May 1st! Lebanon County Reads is our local version of One Book One Community, letting you choose the title everyone reads, plus book discussions and other local programs. This year’s ballot included:

  • The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
  • The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall
  • The Widows by Jess Montgomery

We’ll announce the winner on our libraries’ Facebook pages, and copies will be available to borrow from the eLibrary.

It’s safe to assume that budgets will be tight for libraries in the coming months, and probably years, and with so many in our community facing new challenges, including loss of income and navigating new circumstances, the need for library services will be even greater! Some of our libraries had fundraisers scheduled this spring, which have been postponed. Other sources of income may be redirected to pandemic-related needs. Your library needs your support! Visit our website, choose your local library, and click “Give” to learn how you can help.

Our Lebanon County community is already pulling together to face this challenge, and will continue to do so. I’m confident that we will come out the other side of this better than we were before. Our libraries are here for you during this time, and we can’t wait to see you on the other side!

Properly-worn masks are required in all libraries. Palmyra Library is offering curbside pickup only Nov. 18-25. All libraries will be closed Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. Hours of operation on other dates may vary - please check your local library for details.