Roanoke County Public Libraries offer online resources during coronavirus pandemic


ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Roanoke County Public libraries has launched dozens of online programs and activities to keep residents informed, educated, and entertained.

“We love the interaction we have with the patrons, with families, and kids. We really are missing the contact and that communication, so this is a way to engage with our community,” says Tara Smith, Youth Services and Senior Library Assistant at the South County Library in Roanoke.

On March 14, Roanoke County officials announced all public libraries and Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed starting Monday, March 16.

The announcement came shortly after Governor Ralph Northam ordered all Virginia schools to close for two weeks in response to the growing amount of confirmed cases reported by the Virginia Health Department. As of April 1, there are 1,250 cases and 27 deaths related to the novel coronavirus throughout the Commonwealth.

As soon as the South County Library closed it’s doors, staff members started sharing their ideas on how they could help parents keeps their kids learning away from schools, while also making it fun.

Through virtual programming, the library is able to host a wide-range of programs every day.

Smith says transitioning programs to an online platform was a challenge at first.

“It’s been a lot of learning for us, as far as recording things to put online when we’re use to having face-to-face contact and personal interaction with the public and with kids, so it’s really different from our side of things, but hopefully it’ll be very similar to what they would see if they came to the library for a program or for story time,” says Smith.

Through the Roanoke County Public Library’s Facebook page, many facilities including South County Library take part in recording a selection of video including story readings, trivia, scavenger hunt activities and experiments.

While librarians aren’t able to see participants in-person, Smith says they’re hoping to continue interactions with methods of online commenting and sharing photos.

The South County Library also has a nature walking trail. Located behind the facility, on 6303 Merriman Road in Roanoke, the interactive trail has several storybooks posted along the way by staff members. The unique feature allows parents and children to be outside and read, while staying a safe distance apart.

Smith says libraries across the country and making an effort to provide additional online resources for their communities.

“I think it’s great that we can do this as a public library system. Libraries across the country are trying to do this, so we’re all in this together. We’re all learning from each other and just trying to be creative and provide what we feel like are the best resources for the community,” says Smith.

In addition to online programs, Roanoke County Public Libraries provide extra reading materials for residents through electronic books, known as E-books. Library cards are required in order to access them, but Smith says residents can still get one by contacting any of their facilities.

For more information on upcoming programs and online materials, click here.


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