Q: Are libraries still open during the pandemic and how can I access them?

A:  Libraries are a wonderful resource for the community, and they have found ways to adapt and still be available to us.  While library buildings are currently closed to the public, there are other ways to access their services.

Generally speaking, for both Ventura County and Los Angeles County, libraries are offering curbside pickup for books and materials. You can call your local library to reserve a book for pick up. Usually this provides you with a ten-day window to pick up your materials. You can check on the pickup instructions ahead of time for your local library and know that the process will be done in a safe and contact free manner. Have your library card with you at pick up to make the process smooth. You can easily return items to a drop box whenever it is convenient for you.

There are 17 libraries in Ventura County; 12 of those are within the Ventura County library system. Los Angeles County has 84 community library locations. Each one may have shortened hours with phone service available so you will have to check your local library for details on hours for phone service and pick-up orders. Drop boxes to return materials are available 24/7.

Most libraries are not accepting book donations at this time due to COVID-19 cautions.

Libraries also offer many virtual opportunities, include online reading of e-books and audio books. If you have never used this option, you may be surprised to see how many wonderful resources there are. Most libraries also offer virtual story times, tutoring, discussion groups, educational speakers, and other virtual programs.

Libraries, when they were open to the public for learning, research, and entertainment, also held a greater purpose.. They offered a place to spend time, enjoy a quiet environment, interact with others, and use free internet service. This particular aspect of library services has been a loss to our community as buildings are temporarily closed. Although necessary for public safety, I look forward to when they can be open again for all their many uses.

In the meantime, the library system has done as many other businesses have done. They have adapted and have found new ways to provide services during the pandemic. It is to the benefit of the community to understand how these services remain available and how to access them.

The California Stay at Home Orders continue to be extended due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in our area. Finding ways to stay busy and keep our minds engaged while at home is so important because it is the cornerstone to brain health.  Keeping active also serves as an excellent distraction from the stressors that we experience and can help ward off anxiety and depression. 

Thankfully there are many opportunities to have resources available to us. The library system continues to offer these vital services in our community.

Libraries are vital to healthy communities.  They allow people resources to find jobs, research subjects they are passionate about, explore new worlds and journeys through fiction, and have the world’s information at our fingertips. Our libraries continue to offer a unique and valuable resource to the community. Now more than ever we can see how essential libraries are in enhancing and strengthening our communities.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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