As many community resources continue to remain closed in accordance with the currently ongoing shelter-in-place order, many of their employees and administrators are attempting to ensure that the services they regularly provide are still accessible amidst the current chaos and confusion.
Live Oak Public Libraries, established in 1903 as the singular Savannah Public Library, offers a plethora of public services whose breadth stretches far beyond the free book lending service often brought to mind, which the group has recently made a large push to make available online.
The group, which encompasses public libraries in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties, provides free public internet access, entrepreneurship training and driving permit practice tests as well as genealogy and historical resources among many other services now offered via internet access.
“Live Oak Public Libraries is dedicated to serving our community,” said David Singleton, the group’s executive director. “And, although we can't fully replace the in-library experience online, we wanted to do what we could to keep people connected to the library during this uncertain time.”
The group’s mission of “providing excellent, responsive service to enrich people's lives, support lifelong learning, and build and enhance our communities” is readily displayed in their continued commitments as well as their ongoing push to grant public access to educational and entertaining materials.
“As we made the difficult decision to close our libraries to help stop the spread of COVID-19, immediately we started thinking about how we could provide more services online," said Singleton. "The services are the result of great collaboration among staff who want to continue to serve our community.”
One of the group’s most widely celebrated services amongst the move to online has been the creation and posting of virtual story-times on social media.
“Story-times for young children and families are some of our most popular programs," said Singleton. ”So we wanted to provide an online version as soon as possible. Catherine Baldwin, our youth services coordinator, and Kasey Haessler, our youth services supervisor at Bull Street Library, started the online story-times about three weeks ago, and Sha Dishong, our youth services librarian at the Islands Library, joined them starting last week. We try to feature two books and early literacy activities at each program and our first few story-times had over 1,000 views on Facebook.”
The group is also continuing their work to provide materials and services to under-served communities who may not have internet access. “We have supplied books to many senior facilities, community centers and service organizations,” Singleton explained. “Our wireless network, which extends to many of our parking lots, is still available 24 hours a day. And although we don't currently have wi-fi hotspots to check out, that is something that we are exploring.”
“Public libraries are about community and access,” Singleton added.
“I'll be happy just to see people using our libraries again, whether they’re attending story-times, doing homework, engaging in reading, looking for jobs or exploring personal interests. We're doing all we can to keep things thriving online during this pandemic and we look forward to serving the community again with the personal, exceptional service that we strive for.”