By Kimberly Ewertz
In this time of uncertainty, one resource remains intact—local libraries, a life-line for the community that provides information, resources, entertainment and a much-needed source of relief.
“We are hearing from people who seem to just need a way to connect, stay connected, and unplug from a constant state of worry,” said Diane Roche, director of communications and marketing for the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD).
All that is required to access the SCCLD website, which is available 24/7, is an internet connection and library card, or eCard, or student eAccount, for unlimited access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, virtual programs, streaming movies and music, eMagazines, newspapers, study resources and much more.
No library card—no problem. All Santa Clara County residents with a valid address, (no PO Box), can apply online and instantly receive a library eCard. According to Roche, 4,000 new eCards were issued since January and more than half of those were issued in the past 30 days.
Patrons who never explored the online library are finding it quite a treasure.
“Patrons are very happy to have so many different types of online resources available to them,” Roche said. “They are exploring resources they didn’t realize we had.”
The library staff are on hand seven days a week from 10am-6pm, via email or chat, to provide account support and guidance to countless online resources. Video tutorials demonstrating how to navigate the website are available as well.
“We have seen an increase in the number of views of our tutorials from 2,662 in February, to 11,315 in March,” Roche said.
Local libraries want the community to know they are making every effort to continue to serve their patrons—even if it has to be done remotely.
Morgan Hill Community Librarian Heather Geddes can’t wait to see everyone back at the library.
“All of us at the Morgan Hill Library deeply miss seeing our patrons and hope everyone is staying safe and healthy,” Geddes said. “We are working remotely from our homes to develop online library services and prepare for when our building reopens.”
A Storytime Online section has been recently added to the SCCLD website as a way to provide enriching opportunities for young children and families. The beloved Storytime program is available online 11 times per week, mornings and evenings, including one in Mandarin and one in Spanish.
“During storytimes, librarians tell stories, sing songs, and more, as an early learning initiative that also engenders a love of reading in the youngest members of our community,” Roche said, adding that the storytimes have been averaging roughly 1,600 views per week.
Additional features of the Storytime Online include daily blog posts for kids, teens and adults, storytime seedling podcasts, readings by actors, astronauts, children’s book authors, zoo webcams and more.
With the mandate of long-distance learning lasting through the end of the school year, SCCLD’s partnership with public K-12 school districts within the library district has provided 90,000 students with a student eAccount—providing Pre-K-6 access to ABC Mouse, Sesame Street eBooks, Brainfuse, National Geographic Kids, and Scholastic.
Students in grades 6-12 have access to online tutors, homework help, research articles and videos, test preparation resources, online writing labs, learning and test preparation resources, and research materials.
A proponent of life-long learning, SCCLD offers online classes for students of all ages through Lynda.com, Great Courses, Treehouse for technology learners, ESL resources, and Rosetta Stone. An additional resource, Learning Express, offers lessons in reading, writing and math to help those preparing for the U.S. Citizenship exam.
In addition to countless educational resources, numerous entertainment options are available as well. Kanopy, a streaming video service that offers critically-acclaimed movies, documentaries, and award-winning foreign films has added additional credit-free content for viewers to enjoy, and KanopyKids continues to offer unlimited viewing as well.
The annual Summer Reading Program is off and running, encouraging kids to read all summer long. The program—which runs through May 31—is open to kids ages 0-12, and requires five hours of reading and online activities to win prizes from their local library.
While the libraries remain closed, no library materials need to be returned, and no late fines will be incurred for any materials returned after the libraries reopen.
For information, visit sccld.org.
The San Benito County Free Library may be physically closed as well, but it is offering a wide range of online services.
Most of the resources require a San Benito County Free Library card. Those who do not already have a library card can sign up for one at sbcfl.org/my-account/get-a-library-card. After signing up, a library staff member will be in contact within 24 hours of registration with the library card (barcode) number. A physical library card will be mailed to the address used to register.
EBooks, audiobooks, streaming movies, music, classes, tutoring and many more services are available with a San Benito County Free Library card.
For information, visit sbcfl.org/covid-19/educational-resources. Library patrons can also call 831.636.4107 or email [email protected] Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, or Saturday and Sunday from 1-5pm.