City Library Updates: March–June

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Although The City Library’s buildings have been closed to the public for the last three months, we’ve been as busy as our rooftop bees! The COVID-19 pandemic led to some temporary — but necessary — changes to the way we handle Library services, programs, and events. Library Staff are working hard to adapt our services for social distancing, offer new services, and help keep the community connected. Here are just some of the things the Library has done since March.

Audiobooks and eBooks
When we first closed our doors on March 15, digital apps like Libby and RbDigital became the primary way to get books into your hands. Last week, an NPR story highlighted the increased demand nationwide for eBooks and Audiobooks. It seems that America is checking out more digital books than ever, and Salt Lake City is no different. Our Selectors (the Librarians who choose which books to carry) have diligently added more eBook and Audiobook titles to meet the demand. Compared to last year, we’ve seen a 23% increase in eBook checkouts and a 46% increase in audiobook checkouts.

Plus, we have added over 7,700 titles to OverDrive and RbDigital. We now have over 68,000 copies in our digital collection.

For those of you that are used to chatting with our friendly Librarians to decide what to read next, we’ve added new booklists to our website, blog, and BiblioBoard.

Web Updates
While we have always been proud of our website, once we shuttered our doors, that became the primary source of information for our patrons. We did an overhaul of our website over the first week we were closed in order to cultivate and compile COVID-specific resources, bring our digital services front and center, and update pages to have the most urgent information. We also made it much easier to get a Library card online, and over 2,500 new cardholders have registered in the last three months!

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BiblioBoard
BiblioBoard Library is our newest online resource. You can find content curated by our Librarians and partner organizations, like virtual storytimes, performances, book recommendations, and archives of past Library events. BiblioBoard also hosts artwork submitted by local creatives like you! We’re always adding new things to BiblioBoard, so be sure to bookmark the page and check back often. Several Super Summer Challenge activities can be completed using Biblioboard.

Super Summer Challenge
We know you look forward to the Super Summer Challenge each year. When COVID-19 hit, one of our first priorities was finding a way to make the Challenge work despite social distancing guidelines and the Library closure. After months of planning our traditional Super Summer Challenge, we quickly went back to the drawing board for this year’s all-digital Challenge, titled “Imagine Your Story.” Readers of all ages can sign up online at slcpl.org/supersummer, where you can track your progress by reading and doing activities right from home.

Holds To-Go
In the last three months, you’ve been clamoring to get books back in your hands! Many factors needed to be considered in order to offer curbside pickup, like sanitation, PPE supplies, staffing, and coordination. Since early June we have successfully been hosting Holds To-Go at the Main Library and the Anderson-Foothill and Day-Riverside branches. Starting Monday, June 22, our remaining five branches will be available for Holds To-Go. So you can pick up your books, DVDs, CDs, and more!

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Book Donations
The Friends of The City Library donated all of their books that were previously slotted to be sold during the April Used Book Sale. City Library Staff have been hard at work to get them into the hands of our community members who have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. We’ve made countless donations of lightly-used books to nursing homes, refugee centers, local foster care organizers, Meals on Wheels, recovery centers, prisons, Native American reservations, the Pride Center, homeless resource centers, and more nonprofits in the Salt Lake City boundary. Since May 1, we have donated over 6,500 books to various nonprofit organizations.

Staff Answering Phone and Chat Questions
Monday through Saturday, our staff have been helping with questions over the phone and through our website chat feature. Our research experts are standing by to answer questions about Children and Teen Services, Small Business, Nonprofits and Grants, Adult Collections, and Health. Ayuda también está disponible en español. We can even help you download an eBook to your phone or tablet! Two weeks ago, a senior who didn’t have access to a computer called in wanting to learn more about the Black Lives Matter protests. Our staff member stayed on the call even after their shift ended to read articles aloud that were pertaining to the protests and the context surrounding them.

Seed Library & Community Garden
We’ve helped Salt Lake City get growing with our Seed Library! In mid-March, we were able to take Seed Library requests online. We mailed over 600 envelopes with assorted seeds to our patrons. Since we are unable to have a Community Garden this year, our gardeners have taken over the garden beds, growing food that we have been donating to the Women’s Resource Center. Over the past 3 weeks, we have donated over $300 in fresh, homegrown produce. The women have been so appreciative, as they don’t often get donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. After we donated herbs and salad makings, they sent us this picture of a lovely lavender mint lemonade they made.

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Addressing the Digital Divide
We’ve refurbished 50 computers, and we’re partnering with Catholic Community Services, the Suazo Business Center, and Neighbors Helping Neighbors to distribute the computers to community members that do not have access to a computer in their homes. Staff will begin distributing the refurbished computers this Monday, June 22. The Library is working with Utah Communities Connect, a state-wide digital alliance, to create a city-wide Digital Navigator initiative. The initiative is drawing interest from Salt Lake City Corporation, Google Fiber, Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation, Comcast Universal, United Way, and other community organizations looking to develop a program for staff and volunteer training for the Digital Navigator project, fundraising for devices, and on-going computer skill development.

And more!

  • The 3D Printers in our Creative Lab have been working overtime to produce PPE Face Shield components, in partnership with the University of Utah.
  • Since Social Media became the “face” of the Library, we’ve received over 2,500 followers across all platforms. We’re glad we can still keep in touch with you!
  • We created a new webpage with information on all the resources available to help small businesses.

Stay tuned for updates about partial building reopenings and more new services! Don’t forget to sign up for our all-digital Super Summer Challenge!

Written by

The Salt Lake City Public Library System

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