Lincoln Park Library helps patrons thrive during pandemic – Southgate News Herald

From online access to e-books, to providing computer access to apply for government benefits and employment compensation, the Lincoln Park Public Library is helping its patrons persevere during the pandemic.
Lincoln Park Library Director Nicole Kessler said many of the library’s patrons come in to use the computers to access government unemployment or medical benefits, or to apply for jobs.
“A lot of employers don’t accept paper applications,” she said.
Kessler said the library has spaced out its computer stations, and put up some plexiglass barriers to help people social distance.
She said a lot of students visit the library after school, as well.
“There are a lot of children that don’t necessarily have books at home, but they can come to the library and get what they need, either for their assignments or recreational reading,” Kessler said.
She said their bilingual Spanish storybook collection helps a lot of parents, for whom English is a second language, who want to read to their children, and they have a collection of adult Spanish-language books, as well.
“The children’s books are a larger part of the collection, and some of them are solely Spanish language, but there are a lot of dual language children’s books, where it is in English and Spanish,” Kessler said.
The library also helps parents complete the “1,000 books before kindergarten” initiative, a nationwide program which encourages people to read to newborns, toddlers and preschoolers, to instill in them a love for reading and better prepare them for success in school.
She said they also try to get donated books, through the Friends of the Library, into the hands of parents for them to keep at home to enjoy.
Kessler said they haven’t resumed in-person programming yet, to avoid large gatherings, but the library has tried to do some programs virtually, including a recent presentation on women in jazz.
“Our patrons enjoy musical programming, and that’s a Zoom link, so they can watch, and participate if they have any questions,” she said.
Kessler said a lot of patrons discovered the library’s e-books during the pandemic.
“I think a lot of people didn’t realize how many e-books were available or that our library had e-books until the pandemic,” she said. “And, so, we had a large rise in people that were registering for a library card for the first time, so that they could read those e-books while they were at home in quarantine, and they are almost getting to the number of in-person check-outs.”
Kessler hopes more people return to the library now that the building has reopened.
“That is something I have heard from a lot of libraries in the network,” she said. “So, we are open, and we are here to help our patrons.”
During the pandemic closure, the Friends of the Library paid for some new shelving for the “easy reader” collection. In addition, the library was recarpeted, and Kessler said the staff couldn’t determine when it was last replaced, but said it was “pretty worn down.”
John Kolis of Lincoln Park, who was using a computer, said he appreciates it when the staff is able to help him find something online, and he likes being able to use a desktop computer.
“I don’t have a tablet; I use my phone,” he said. “So, the screen is kind of small, and it is helpful to come here and use the computer.”
Emily Putnam of Lincoln Park said she comes in to the library to use a computer when she doesn’t want to do her online work on her smartphone.
“The computers work good, and the staff are very nice,” she said.
Lastar Taylor, or Ecorse, said she has a business, and her printer is currently down, so she comes to the library to print documents and invoices.
“It’s a big help,” she said. “They are always nice, friendly and willing to help.”
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