The pandemic has led to an increase in online library sources

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A national survey finds libraries are filling the technology gap even further during a pandemic, and the Hancock County Public Library is also seeing an increase in remote use.

As the country celebrates Library Card Enrollment Month in September, a new report from the Public Library Association details how libraries are further expanding their technology services and resources in the face of the limitations of the pandemic.

The HCPL is no exception. While electronic resources have been available to residents of Hancock County for years, the pandemic has focused the library’s efforts even further on remote and home access, providing resources for students, parents, to job seekers and more.

During the shutdown, librarians saw a dramatic increase in the use of e-books and audiobooks downloadable from the library’s catalog and OverDrive virtual shelves. Usage on the video and book streaming platforms, Kanopy and Hoopla, has also increased.

April 2019 compared to April 2020 showed a 29% increase in overall digital usage, according to a press release from the HCPL. May 2019 compared to May 2020 showed an increase of 20%. So far, 2021 usage has increased by 25.7%.

Local data is in line with national data. The PLA reports that more than half of public libraries are circulating the technology for offsite patrons.

Survey data, captured for the first time, shows that more than half of public libraries report circulating technology (eg, hotspots, laptops and tablets) for offsite patrons use.

“Library workers are making technology more accessible to everyone of all ages in our communities, including students, job seekers, and the millions of Americans who still lack broadband access and skills.” , said PLA President Melanie Huggins. “The new investigative report details how our nation’s public libraries are serving as critical infrastructure to bridge digital divides, foster lifelong learning and advance economic recovery.

The HCPL has increased the availability of home Internet access by making hotspots available for payment. And now, instead of limiting public Wi-Fi to library opening hours, local residents can connect their devices from the parking lots closest to buildings at any time.

Library patrons immediately took advantage of extended Wi-Fi access during the closure. Local residents even tapped into the library’s free Ancestry.com membership from the parking lot for genealogy work.

Residents of Hancock County improved their language learning through the library’s Mango app in 2020 at the height of the pandemic shutdown. They also increased investment research through Value Line.

The use of digital resources has also jumped thanks to a successful partnership between the library and local schools. Now every student in Hancock County is automatically assigned a digital library card when they enroll in school.

Parents still engaged in virtual education can use Novelist to find materials for each child’s reading level and can request book lists curated by librarians on the website, hcplibrary.org. Students can also get homework help from tutors live through Brainfuse.

Tried in-person events like children’s storytelling hours and book clubs went digital during the pandemic out of necessity. Today, many of these programs are still available on YouTube and Facebook Watch. The library was able to organize its annual “battle of the books” for eighth and ninth grade students in the county as a virtual event last spring; and currently, for many in-person events at the library, live streaming is an available option.

In one look

The Hancock County Public Library will honor “Library Card Enrollment Month” by launching a passport program starting today, September 1, to waive fees and potentially win prizes.

Residents of Hancock County can pick up a passport at the information desk of either branch of the library and get a hallmark every time they complete any of the four easy tasks. Each punch earns $ 1 on current or future fines, up to $ 4, and is refundable until December 31. The first hallmark simply requires residents to show or request their current library card; the card is free. After four punches, participants can complete the bottom stub of the passport and enter to win sweepstakes for a set of experiences, which includes family memberships at the Indianapolis Zoo and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. There are four designs, four prize winners. The deadline for punching passports and entering designs is September 30, 2021.

The Hancock County Public Library is located at 900 W. McKenzie Rd. In Greenfield and 5731 W. US 52 in New Palestine. For more information visit www.hclibrary.org.


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