Originally published in the March 22, 2020 edition of the Chillicothe Gazette

By Jenn Slone, Access Team Leader

As the events of the past week have unfolded, every business sector, organization, and citizen has found themselves making challenging and difficult decisions. Social distancing is the only true prevention in leveling out the coming spike in Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases that will be seen nationwide. On Monday, March 16, the library made the difficult decision to protect our staff, patrons, and community, by closing the doors to our facilities and ceasing all on-site services.

We’ve worked out a rotation for staff to perform key administrative tasks and to monitor building safety at all locations, and to maintain and expand online offerings so that we can continue to bring quality service to our patrons, many of whom are isolated at home. Our current plan is to reopen on Monday, April 6, but we know that date is tentative.

Any library materials currently checked out won’t be due until April 30, and we’ve made sure none of our library cards will expire during this time, so that patrons continue to have access to our online offerings.

All you need to access our digital resources is a library card. If you don’t have one, visit www.crcpl.org/about/get-a-library-card to register for one. You’ll get a temporary ID that will give you immediate online access. Many of these resources have apps that you can download. Visit www.crcpl.org/online-resources for more information.

Here’s a run-down of everything available in our “Digital Library,” even when our physical libraries are closed:

  • Free 24/7 WiFi that can be accessed from the parking lot at our Main, Northside, Paxton, Frankfort, Kingston, and Richmond Dale locations.
  • eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines through the Ohio Digital Library (use the Libby app to access). Macmillan Publishing has even lifted its embargo on libraries purchasing their titles during this crisis – although temporarily – which means more newly-published books will be available to you.
  • eBooks, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, and music through hoopla. We increased patron checkouts from 10 to 15 on Monday.
  • Five hours per day of streaming music through Freegal. You can also download three songs per week which stay on your device and are yours to keep.
  • Quality British television with AcornTV. Check out a one-week pass at a time with the RBDigital app.
  • Free online learning through Gale Courses. Now is the perfect time to brush up on a new skill. Learn how to use Microsoft Office products or get a certificate in Infectious Diseases and Infection Control (seriously!). The list of class offerings on Gale Courses is truly incredible.
  • Online arts and crafts projects, including patterns and templates, on Creativebug. If you’re going to spend time at home with the family, might as well get creative!
  • Online musical instrument instruction by Grammy-award winning musicians on ArtistWorks. Watch videos that will teach you to play guitar, piano, ukulele, and much more.
  • NuWav Legal Docs, which has hundreds of fillable, downloadable legal documents specific to Ohio. Depending on your situation, you may need to file legal documents related to careers, housing, and other circumstances during this pandemic.
  • Language learning through Transparent Language. Lots of people have decided to study a new language while they have extra time on their hands. Transparent Language offers instruction in over 100 languages.
  • A wide array of learning resources through the Ohio Web Library, like the Chilton Auto Repair Library, the Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center, and the Home Improvement Reference Center.
  • Online resources for kids through the Ohio Web Library, like World Book Online, Kids InfoBits, Early World of Learning, and Explora.
  • Genealogy resources like HeritageQuest, African American Heritage, Fold3 Military Records, and Ancestry Library Edition, which has just been made available for at-home usage during the crisis.

In addition to these online offerings, we’re still providing reference service via email at contact@crcpl.org.

If you’re still longing for a book you can hold in your hands, we have regularly-stocked Free Little Libraries located near the front doors at our Richmond Dale, South Salem, Paxton Frankfort, and Kingston branches, and we also help stock the one at the YMCA in Chillicothe.

Thank you for your patience during this difficult time. We can’t wait to return to normal operations. Until then, stay safe, stay sane, and stay in to check out.

Jenn Slone is Access Team Leader at CRCPL, where she manages the library’s digital services as well as the Information Technology, Technical Processing, and Outreach departments.