LIBRARY NEWS: Libraries strengthen their communities, will celebrate National Library Week April 19-25

Bradford County Library System staff members are pictured during last year’s Summer Reading Launch Party.

Soon, the Library System of Bradford County will join libraries of all types across Pennsylvania and the nation in celebrating the many ways libraries build strong communities by providing critical resources, programs and expertise.

April 19 to April 25 is National Library Week, an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians and library workers play in transforming lives and communities. Libraries are at the heart of their cities, towns, schools and campuses. They have public spaces where people of all backgrounds can come together and connect.

“We are so much more than books,” proclaims System Administrator Lea Chisum. “While we do have a wide variety of great books, we also have state-of-the-art technology, offer computer and internet access, and serve as a hub for information and programs of all types.”

The nine independent libraries that comprise the Library System of Bradford County act as community centers by innovating programming for all ages covering a variety of topics including basic, civic, financial, health, and information literacy as well as activities that are just plain fun. Many also have public meeting spaces available, offer technology assistance, and serve as a landing place for children and families.

“You can come into one of our libraries and read the paper, find a novel, get the answer to a question, learn new skills, join in family game night, or experiment with exciting new tools,” Chisum exclaims. “If you still think of libraries as hushed, dusty book repositories, you must not have been in to visit lately. We are teeming with light, sound, and excitement. There are still quiet spaces available of course, but usually there are also children and families playing, groups discussing books and important topics, and maybe even a musical or theater event taking place.”

While the buildings are vibrant hubs of activity, services extend far beyond the beautiful and often historic walls. Each library participates in local events, festivals, fairs, and other gatherings. Love the outdoors? Visitors may have seen someone from the system at Mount Pisgah participating in Women in the Wild, Patriots in the Park, or a special story time. Students will recognize many of the librarians from outreach in preschools, daycares, and schools. If something is going on in the community, there is a good chance that one of the libraries will be there. The brand new bookmobile can also be found out in the community connecting with senior centers, daycares, and outlying communities that do not have a brick-and-mortar library.

“We are proud of our partnerships with local organizations such as the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center, Bradford County Regional Arts Council, Child Hunger Outreach Partners, Mount Pisgah State Park, and so many more,” explains Chisum. “Last fall we joined with BCRAC and Wyalusing Rotary to offer a Community Conversation for Social Repair about food and housing insecurity. So many more great events like this are in the works for when we can reopen to the public following the COVID-19 crisis.” Events and collaborations such as this are a major component of modern libraries, but the libraries also collaborate with one another.

Last summer the Library System of Bradford County launched its first annual Summer Reading kick-off and fly-in breakfast in cooperation with the Bradford County Airport. On this special day, all nine libraries and many of their partner organizations united to offer great games, fun crafts, and exciting activities in addition to a free breakfast and a featured speaker. Planning for this year’s event has been underway since last fall and four shared programs that travel to each of the libraries has been scheduled. “We are so excited to start promoting the Launch Party and these really fun events,” Chisum says, “but we are exploring virtual options if we are still required to be closed to the public at that time.”

Though libraries remain closed per commonwealth instructions, staff members remain hard at work. In light of social distancing orders, programming has moved online with several libraries expanding into digital programs such as Facebook story time, reader’s advisory, and sharing resources for parents navigating homeschooling. In addition to academic assets, you can also find links to author readings, musical performances, and many fun games and activities available around the web. These posts also include important health news updates, information from schools and food pantries, and the latest from the state regarding financial assistance opportunities, the 2020 Census, and new primary dates.

Library websites are loaded with services including digital resources provided by PowerLibrary and eBranch2Go. Here, people can find academic databases for students of all ages, interactive platforms such as BookFlix, TrueFlix, PowerKids, and PowerTeens, e-books via Libby and Overdrive, and a plethora of information repositories such as Auto and Small Engine Repair, Pennsylvania Job Resources, and Personal Success Skills Center.

“I’m particularly proud of Personal Success Skills Center, the newest resource we have added,” Chisum says. “There are study guides and practice tests for all kinds of licensure and career tests such as real estate, military, civil service, EMS, and law enforcement plus college admission exams such as ACT, SAT, and AP. There is also a GED prep section and a section for new college students to ensure future success. Plus it includes modules on study skills, homework help, personal and career goals, time management, organization, and personal finance. Now is a great time to really put those resources to use.”

Individual resources are featured on social media daily and staff is available to assist users with navigation. Patrons with library cards can log in directly. Those without an active card can quickly register for an e-card in the e-resource module for use with all online material.

Efforts are also underway to design services for those without computer or internet access. In cooperation with the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and the Pennsylvania Library Association, staff members are exploring safe means for engagement and service while maintaining appropriate social distancing standards. In the meantime patrons are advised to hold on to borrowed materials until the libraries can reopen. Some libraries have extended due dates and all will waive late fees associated with the crisis.

The Library System of Bradford County is comprised of nine independent libraries including Allen F. Pierce Free Library (Troy), Bradford County Library & Bookmobile (Burlington), Green Free Library (Canton), Mather Memorial Library (Ulster), Monroeton Public Library, Sayre Public Library, Spalding Memorial Library (Athens), Towanda Public Library and Wyalusing Public Library. Please give a shout-out to your local library during National Library Week and explore all that they have to offer.

For more information, visit local library websites or find them on social media.

For more information about National Library Week, visit http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek.