Alabama public libraries offer online resources during pandemic

Alabama public libraries offer online resources during pandemic

By ABBY DRIGGERS, Alabama Daily News

Digital libraries don’t close.

Libraries in Alabama have limited their public interactions for over a month now due to coronavirus restrictions, but books, magazines, online programming, career help and other resources remain available online.

Public libraries have adjusted to local needs by altering operating hours and limited personnel numbers, as well as by offering curbside services and virtual information assistance.

Nancy Pack, the director of Alabama Public Library Services, told Alabama Daily News that anyone can view the electronic databases APLS and the Alabama Virtual Library provides.

“It’s been a time where people who didn’t realize the resources public libraries had are now learning how to use those tools, and that’s a very good thing,” Pack said.

Library officials suggest the following free online resources:

  • HomeworkAlabama.org, which provides online tutoring for students as well as additional academic resources;
  • Career Alabama, available on HomeworkAlabama.org, which offers services such as resume writing, critique for resumes and tips on how to get back into the jobs market;
  • Learning Express Library, which offers preparation materials from PreK-12 through college;
    ● E-Books available through the Alabama Virtual Library;
    ● Hoopla Digital, which offer free books, audiobooks and movies.

In addition to statewide resources, several local public libraries have taken to offering virtual resources specific to their communities, such as online story time across social media sites.

Melanie Thornton, director of public relations at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, says public libraries are working to cultivate resources to inform citizens.

“The library itself is not just a building. We are an entity in the community,” Thornton said. “We live in a time where you know we’re not just bound by the walls of the library. And that means that we can reach out to people at all times.”

With summer approaching, APLS is researching solutions for summer reading programs. Pack says summer reading programs usually run for six weeks with various public libraries offering programs for early literacy, children, teens and adults. Citizens can register with their public library.

“Right now, some of Alabama’s libraries are doing virtual programs, which they hope to continue with those who have access to broadband,” Pack said.

Yet, in some communities in Alabama, a lack of access to internet connection exists.

“Alabama needs to get rural broadband going and we need to really work on technology in Alabama,” Pack said.

Alabama public libraries’ ability to have WiFi in the parking lot has been a “godsend”, Pack said.

“Our role is to keep the community informed, be a community player, be a gathering place for the community, provide information in reading materials and needs for the communities,” Pack said. “Each community in Alabama is different.”

Alabama Public Library Services receives and administers federal and state funds for more than 200 public libraries in Alabama.
For more information on electronic resources, visit the APLS website at www.statelibrary.alabama.gov.