By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(April 30, 2020) Even though the Worcester County Library branches remain closed under Gov. Larry Hogan’s order that only essential businesses can be open, books are still being offered to the public – virtually.
The Worcester County Library’s digital library is available for use during the closure. Included are material for students, eBooks and stream media, resource guides and up-to-date information about the coronavirus.
“The library’s digital collection has thousands of items,” Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck said. “We have two resources available for checking out eBooks – Overdrive and Hoopla. Each of those products has content available for children, teens and adults.”
The digital library is available by visiting www.WorcesterLibrary.org. The database has collections from every genre – from thrillers to romance and mystery – and nonfiction options such as health and fitness, cooking, and history.
According to Ranck, reading is more important than ever because it can be “therapeutic.”
“Reading regularly will help maintain skills for students and prevent academic regression,” she said. “When a person becomes engrossed in a story, it relaxes the mind and relieves stress.”
Amid the school closures required by Gov. Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon, the county library system also offers a large variety of education-based materials for students who are now learning online.
“The library has created an entire section about at-home learning on our website, www.WorcesterLibrary.org,” Ranck said. “Your library card can help with at-home tutoring using BrainFuse.”
BrainFuse is a database for test preparation, tutoring and homework help, available seven days a week between 2-11 p.m. Spanish-speaking tutors are also available.
Ranck said that despite local libraries being closed, she is pleased that people seem interested in the virtual resources offer.
“It has been a strange feeling to be closed, but we are very happy to have this opportunity to talk about virtual resources,” she said. “We have received questions about downloading eBooks and finding our digital magazines, so we believe more people are taking advantage of these resources.”
In addition, the organization is offering several virtual activities through its social media pages, including story times, poetry readings, and how-to programs for tasks like sewing, baking, juggling and other activities.
The library system also launched a program in March called “Seclusion Cinema.”
“We are encouraging patrons of all ages to submit a short film (five minutes or less) into our homemade film festival,” Ranck said. “Complete rules are available on our website.”
The Seclusion Cinema will run until Monday, June 1. Participants can create a short film no longer than five minutes long ranging on any topic provided it is family friendly, does not use copyright music and does not include any violence, weapons or profanity.
The website also offers some links to editing video software as well as a link to upload the content. Films that follow the library’s guidelines will be uploaded to the organization’s Facebook page.
In addition, the library offers a program called CreativeBug, which features video tutorials for all ages on various art and craft projects.
Artist Works offers step-by-step video instruction on a number of different instruments.
People can also access Mango for language learning and can select from 70 different languages to study at their own pace.
Other events held throughout the week include arts and crafts projects, poetry readings, book clubs for tweens, adults and children, tea time, and some history lessons. These events can be found on the library’s website under the events page.
Residents with active Worcester County Library cards can use them to access the virtual database. Free digital cards are available for 90 days.
To sign up for a digital library card, click the “apply for a library card” link underneath the slideshow on the library website.
Any questions can be answered through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the Worcester County Library Facebook page or website at www.WorcesterLibrary.org.
“We look forward to reopening our branches as soon as possible and we appreciate everyone’s patience and support,” Ranck said. “The library is here to help in any way we can during this difficult time.”