When I signed up to write this column a few months ago, I intended to share a few of the online services offered by our local libraries. Little did I know that I would write it at a time when many librarians are busily fostering virtual libraries on their Facebook pages and websites. In recent days, our brick and mortar libraries have closed. Digital offerings have suddenly become the foundation on which our libraries temporarily rest.
There’s a national and state emergency. You’re stuck at home. Maybe you have kids who need activities to keep them busy. Why not try the library? You can’t go to the library physically, but the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover offers enough reading and other activities to carry you and your family through the coronavirus crisis and beyond.
For Jennifer Pearson, the choice was difficult but clear: Shut down the library, or people could die.
“My library was filled with older people,” Pearson says. “I just wanted to go out and scream, ‘Go home. What are you doing here?’ I knew that if we didn’t make that move to close the building, they would never stop coming. We were, at that point, doing more harm than good.”
Residents of the Boston area are spending a lot more time at home due to the novel coronavirus pandemic that has led to not only limits on how many people can gather at one time and where but to the closure of myriad cultural institutions
But many of these same institutions—museums, parks, performing arts centers, libraries, and more—offer virtual peeks into their exhibits, collections, and other offerings. Some even have snazzy videos that really take your inside. And all of this from the (relative) comfort of your own home.
As educators, parents, and students enter this unknown territory of school closures and remote learning, kid lit authors and illustrators have been stepping up to help. Many are parents themselves and juggling the same school/work balance amid the stress and uncertainty.
“Gina and I are transitioning to homeschooling,” tweeted Jarrett J. Krosoczka, creator of the graphic novel Hey Kiddo among other titles. “We need to keep the kids on a schedule, and we are imagining we are far from alone. We want to help. Every weekday at 2pm ET for at least the next few weeks, I’ll host free webcasts for you and your kiddos. http://youtube.com/studiojjk ”
Hundreds are self-quarantining in Massachusetts. Colleges are sending students home. Social interaction is edging toward taboo.
That’s not the ideal environment to conduct a nationwide head count. So with the launch of the 2020 Census on Thursday, Secretary of State William F. Galvin made a plea to Massachusetts’s estimated 6.9 million residents to not only ensure they’re counted, but to do it online.
“I now see this is as a lifeline, as it were, given the circumstances we’re now under,” Galvin said Thursday of the option to respond to the 2020 Census electronically, though the old-fashioned avenues — by phone, by mail, or to a census taker face-to-face — all remain.
Governor Charlie Baker sent out an email to state employees regarding the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Here is what he had to say, and some tips to help prevent the spread of the diseases including the flu and the common cold:
Your health and safety is our top priority. While the risk associated with the Coronavirus or COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts, I want to discuss what we are doing to prepare and what you can do to both stay informed and to prevent spreading the virus.
We have been working with our federal and local partners daily as we build on our existing plans to deal with this virus, and we will adapt when need be to keep people safe. Yes, it is very contagious, but it is also not a danger to the vast majority of the people who do catch it. The threat in the U.S. and the threat in Massachusetts at this time remain low, and our constant surveillance efforts and ongoing dialogue with the health care, infectious disease and public health experts here in Massachusetts will ensure we make appropriate adjustments along the way.
These simple precautions will help prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water frequently and use hand sanitizer.
- If you have a fever or feel sick, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
- Clean surfaces that are frequently touched such as doorknobs and countertops with household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Think ahead about how to take care of yourself and your loved ones if the virus starts to spread.
- Get the flu vaccine – it is not too late!
The latest information about COVID-19 in Massachusetts is available at the Department of Public Health’s website here: https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19
And a printable factsheet is available here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/english-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-0/download
The latest Centers for Disease Control information about COVID-19 is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Additionally, MEMA’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management has posted helpful recommendations for what individuals can do to prepare for potential emergencies. That information is available here: mass.gov/KnowPlanPrepare
It is important to remember that there is only a single case in Massachusetts and local health officials confirm that this individual is recovering well.
The folks at HHS and DPH are working around the clock with our federal partners. I want to thank them and everyone across state government for serving the people of Massachusetts.
The first public library opened in Boston between 1711 and 1725. Since then, to say the least, things have changed. Entering the technological age, libraries have had to make great leaps to ensure they keep up with the profusion of new forms of knowledge. While some may still view libraries as places to search through stacks of books – which, of course, they are – they have also become havens of futuristic learning and living.
Hometown Weekly’s communities provide perfect examples of just such technologically-enhanced libraries.
A little over a year after the groundbreaking, on Dec. 19, the East Forest Park Library officially opened its doors to the public for the first time in a brand new building on Surrey Road.