While the adults in their lives head to the polls to choose a president, kids across Massachusetts are being asked to participate in another type of election.
Starting Monday, at www.KidsVoteForBooks.com, young people can choose their favorite books and see if their choices are in the Top 25 when the votes are tallied. Voting is open through Nov. 9.
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If there’s a service that’s been thriving for municipalities during the pandemic it’s been public libraries.
While internal access to libraries continues to be either very limited or non-existent, use of libraries’ resources, whether physical or digitized, is available and in demand.
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The public library in Franklin has been loaning books for 230 years — the town boasts the first continuous public-lending library in the nation. It was founded in 1790 with a donation of books from Benjamin Franklin. But when the pandemic hit, like all other libraries in the state, the Franklin library closed its doors — leaving patrons like long-time resident Safdar Mahmud eagerly awaiting its return.
“I’m a teacher. … So, for me, libraries are very important,” Mahmud said. “Just to have the distinction of Franklin being one of those historical places — there’s even books in there that were sent by [Benjamin] Franklin, and some of the original books going back to the early 1700s are actually housed in there.”
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Jazmine Adams-McNeal tried time and time again to explain to her young daughter why their weekly trips to the library stopped suddenly in March.
It didn’t go over well.
“It was a lot of meltdowns,” said Adams-McNeal, 31, of Ferguson, Missouri. She, her wife and their children – a 4-year-old girl and twin 2-year-old boys – are staples at their local library. “My daughter grew up at the library. We stay going to all the programs. Definitely the lap-times on Fridays.”
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For the rest of the week, we are exploring businesses that are set to re-open under the second phase of Governor Charlie Baker’s re-opening plan.
Today, we looked at day cares and libraries.
First, we spoke with the owner and president of Magical Beginnings, which has six child care locations on the North Shore. Linda Hassapis said her company has been open for emergency child care throughout the pandemic and that model was working great. She had some criticism on the Governor’s guidance for her business.
Then, we heard about the challenges facing libraries across the state from Rob Favini, head of Library Advisory and Development at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
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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.
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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.
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When the Worcester Public Library found out it would be closing in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, employees began thinking of a way to connect community members without physically gathering together. The #HeartWorcester campaign was then born.
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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.”
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