Distance Learning? How to Socially Distance Yourself from the Library

As a librarian, I am a huge proponent of visiting the library. Bring your children to storytime! Sign up for summer reading! Visit often and and stay all day! 

But now, in a COVID-19 world, my library message is a little different.


This fall, if you are keeping your child home from school {or even if you aren’t}, please keep them home from the library, too. 

Wait, wait, wait! By no means do I mean don’t use the library! But, like so many things right now, you should be prepared to use it a little differently. And, as long as social distance and mask-wearing are an everyday thing in our world, sometimes that means by not visiting it at all.

Here are some great ways that parents and kids can enjoy the library from the comfort of your own home:

  • Your library’s website and Facebook pages
    These are the best place to find information about how your library is currently operating. In addition to information about our regular services, most library websites will have information about specific COVID-19 changes, a link to search the library’s catalog, information about digital services and virtual programs, and lots more. The library’s Facebook page probably has the best information about upcoming programs, many of which are held on Facebook Live. I know I often get notifications when pages that I follow are Live (mostly because I forget to turn those notifications off…) but I’ve stumbled across delightful programs just by following a variety of libraries on Facebook!
  • Take advantage of curbside services!
    Just like your grocery store, most libraries are currently providing contact-free curbside pick up. In fact, many libraries are only open for curbside service. Check with your local library for their hours and they’ll tell you all about how to schedule a pick up.
  • Check out the catalog from your couch, or give us a call if you need a recommendation!
    Even if your local library isn’t open to the public, our online catalogs are available from home 24/7. Place books on hold and have them pulled for you or sent from other library locations. Don’t know what to read? Give your library a call during our posted hours and a librarian will be more than happy to make recommendations! We definitely miss seeing patrons and connecting them with library materials is one of the best parts of the job, so feel free to get in touch!
  • Need homework help? Or homeschooling books?
    No matter which library you belong to in Michigan, mel.org has tons of great resources that you can access from home that will assist your child with their homework. Need guidance for how to use them? You guessed it… call your library and we’ll walk you through it.
    If you need specific books for your homeschool curriculum or to round out your virtual schooling, use the library catalog to request them for pick up. Many children’s departments also have a parent/teacher collection right in the children’s room with plenty of materials to help get you through whatever season of parenting (or teaching, or parent-teaching) that you’re in.
  • Don’t want to check out physical materials at all? Check out our digital collections!
    Most libraries are quarantining materials that have been recently returned for 72-96 hours. If you’re concerned about exposure, though, there are plenty of materials available from the library that don’t require anything more than your phone. Many libraries have eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies, music, and even comic books available through platforms like Overdrive and Hoopla. All you need is a device and your library card and you could be reading your next novel in five minutes. We have materials for kids, teens, and adults. If you need help accessing digital resources, visit your library’s website or give your branch a call and we’ll walk you through it!
  • Attend a free program online.
    No in-person programming… this one is hard for me, too. As a children’s librarian, I usually love doing storytime every week! But did you know that your library is probably holding virtual events online? Whether it’s through Zoom, Facebook Live, or Youtube, you can catch up with your favorite library programs and storytimes and learn something new. And if you or your kiddos are feeling as screened-out as I am right now, libraries are also working hard to come up with innovative ways to reach our patrons and deliver programs and services in interactive, screen-free ways as well.
  • If you need to visit us in person…
    I get it. Sometimes you need to come to the library to browse on your own. Maybe you know a book is on the new shelf, or you need a computer or a copy machine. Maybe you just need to get out of the house for a few minutes. But expect it to be a quick stop. Like everywhere else, you will be expected to follow social distancing and not be encouraged to spend much time — many libraries have even removed seating areas, tables, and many computers to allow everyone a little more space. And yes, plan to wear a mask — kids and adults alike. I personally haven’t brought my own kids to the library in months, because it’s not the same fun place they’ll remember. It breaks my heart a little bit. But know that you are helping us to stay open, and helping to keep our staff members healthy and do not make plans to replace your child’s school day with cozy time spent at the library.
    distance learning

I know virtual programs and our online services don’t replace the real thing — as a mama, I know that the library is great for more than just getting out of the house! Storytime is where your preschoolers meet some of their first friends, and visiting community gathering spaces like libraries is an opportunity to make mom friends, too. 

Rest assured your librarians are still here for you, and we miss you too. Library staff everywhere are trying our best to stay healthy while providing you with the best services we can, and we’ll still be here when everything goes back to “business as usual”.

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Dena lives in Grand Blanc with her husband, Chris, her daughter (a smart and sassy preschooler), and her daughter's BFF, a grumpy-but-sweet old lady cat named Luna. She works full-time as a children’s librarian in Lapeer and volunteers with her local Great Start Collaborative, the Michigan Library Association, and other organizations to help make the world a better place for kids. Dena grew up in Metro Detroit and spent six years in Massachusetts before moving to Grand Blanc in 2016. She loves spending time with her family, exploring local parks and museums, reading children’s books, trying new restaurants, and checking out a trivia night every once in a while.


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