You have the power to escape the pandemic -- even for a little while. It’s in the palm of your hand.
Your library card gives you a front row seat to a Hollywood blockbuster. You can check out a New York Times bestseller as an audiobook to your phone. And you can still attend fun and interesting library programs, but in your P.J.s on the couch.
The Library is keeping you connected to work and school, to information about the pandemic, to entertainment (yes, please!), and most importantly, to each other. Our doors are open, whether you walk in, drive through or log on.
We love doing this for you, but it hasn’t been easy!
The Library has changed the way we do business, and with less money than in normal times. We’ve upped our game in e-books and hot spots, and added things inside our branches to keep you safe. Library staff have created family activities that are enjoyed in the great outdoors or at home.
If you love The Library, and we know you do, donate today to help keep your library strong now and when we're all ready to get back to normal.
In normal times, The Library welcomes nearly two million visitors from Springfield, Greene County and beyond. It’s a place where people gather to read, use computers and meeting rooms, attend storytimes and programs, and to hear a free concert. In normal times, we’d be gearing up for a Summer Reading Program full of entertainers, hands-on STEM programs and storytimes to keep kids engaged in learning over the summer. Of course, we know these are not normal times.
The Library continues to adapt to serve the community. During the shutdown, The Library quickly expanded its online research and reference resources and made it possible to apply for a library card online. It established a phone number to answer patrons’ questions. The district extended Wi-Fi access 24/7 to parking lots at all branches. Camera-shy staff became storytime celebrities as programs quickly went online. We quarantined and cleaned returned materials.
E-book checkouts skyrocketed in April and May during the stay-at-home order. In April alone, patrons checked out 41% more e-books and e-audiobooks over the same time last year, with 39,324 checkouts. Now that we’re open, patrons want and need more such digital services. The Library secured funding to increase the number of hot spots, laptops for patron use, e-books and e-audiobooks in a move to help close the digital divide.
The Library branches have been open since May 26, 2020 and we’re doing everything possible to keep visitors safe, including the addition of a smartphone app called cloudLibrary, a touchless option that lets patrons check out their own books with their smartphone.
Inside the buildings you’ll see physically distanced seating and protective plexiglass. Masks are required to be worn while in all Springfield-Greene County Libraries. The Library provides disposable masks when patrons need them, especially at Park Central Branch Library, where many library patrons are experiencing homelessness.
With the rollout of the vaccine, library staffers are helping patrons find when they are eligible and how to sign up for appointments. This is a critical service for people who don't own a computer and for seniors who struggle with navigating the internet.
Library Wi-Fi remains available beyond business hours outside our branches, a benefit for patrons who need Wi-Fi after hours. As of October 1, the extended hours for Wi-Fi in parking lots is Ash Grove: 7–8 p.m.; Fair Grove: 4 a.m.–10 p.m.; Library Express West kiosk: 24/7; Library Station, Library Center, Park Central Branch, Republic Branch and Schweitzer Brentwood, 4 a.m.–11 p.m.; Midtown Carnegie: Monday–Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m., none on Sunday; Strafford and Willard branches 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
The pandemic did not stop the Summer Reading to Go program in 2020, which provided literacy opportunities to under-resourced families who may not be able to visit a library branch. Staff handed out hundreds of literacy project kits to nine day camps, (Salvation Army, SPARC, two YMCA sites, four Boys and Girls Clubs, and Republic Stripes Summer Daycamp). Staff also provided Summer Reading To Go services to hundreds of preschool children, the Salvation Army Family Enrichment Center and the Kitchen Emergency Shelter families.
Additional outreach services, such as Walking Books, are an important way to ease social isolation worsened by coronavirus. Library patrons who cannot easily travel to the Library due to physical limitations can get Library materials delivered to their homes once a month.
Patron Jan Dieke is legally blind and dictated this letter through her friend, Lynda Schubler:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Greene County Library and Walking Books for all the many hours and entertainment the audiobooks have provided over the last year and a half. The audiobooks have been key to keeping my mind active and engaged. Without the personal touch of staff, the choosing and delivery of books would be near impossible for me at this time and in the future. I hope this program is supported and continues for me and others with vision impairment. Without the audiobooks my quality of life would be different. With great sincerity and appreciation, Jan Dieke.”
The Summer Reading Program adapted to the times and provided motivation for kids to continue learning through the pandemic summer.
“My oldest son is dyslexic,” shared one parent, "and since participating in the summer reading program he has been much more motivated to read. Although he still doesn’t generally read for pleasure he has had more reason to explore various genres at the Library and discover he prefers nonfiction to the funny stories that are normally introduced to reluctant readers.”
Another parent, who echoed similar comments for other caregivers said,
"Thank you all SO MUCH for keeping this summer tradition going during a pandemic! This is one experience our daughters did not have to lose.”
Takeout Kits have been hugely popular among kids and adults. The mental health benefits of crafting shouldn’t be underestimated during this stressful time. Library staff have been busy creating projects with all the supplies needed to complete a craft at home. The Takeout Kits can be picked up at any branch or drive-through window.
Maria Shuffit submitted a set of photos of her son enjoying the Library’s Takeout Kits with this note:
"We are the Shuffits and we love the library! We are so grateful to still be able to interact with the library during the pandemic. We are loving the take out projects! Thank you for continuing to share fun and learning with our family!”
Even during a pandemic, people need to physically come into The Library. They need Wi-Fi, computers, a quiet place to work remotely or study, notary assistance and other free resources only a public library can provide. The Library is a critical public space for working and learning. Caregivers still want their children to experience the joy of browsing for books. We’ve been told that for many families, The Library is one of the few places where they feel safe bringing their kids.
Loss of Revenue
The following is a list, but not all-inclusive, of areas where revenue is down. Due to the shutdown and decreased demand for passports, revenue for passport processing at the Library Center and the Library Station was down $30,915.00 in December 2020 from the same time in 2019. Revenue from fines was down $24,660.18. The Library is collecting no rent from its coffee shops, as the Mudhouse at the Library Center and Big Momma’s at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library remain closed. Gift shop revenue is down. Revenue from copy machines was down $8,783.41. The Library will not receive the full state Athletes and Entertainers tax revenue, which was expected to be $46,000. The Library purchased cleaning supplies, plexiglass and PPE to keep the public safe throughout all the library branches. Some, but not all, of those expenses have been reimbursed through the CARES Act.
The two fundraising arms of The Library -- The Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library -- have canceled events and therefore have less to give back to The Library. The Friends canceled its spring 2020 book sale, and the Library Foundation canceled One Big Party in the spring and Flights & Frights Trivia Night in October. These events represent approximately $130,000 in lost net revenue.
Looking to the Future
The vision of the Springfield-Greene County Library District is to be "A thriving Library that is an integral part of the lives of the community." The Library is addressing the priorities of the community during the pandemic while planning for normal times.