When library doors shut, digital doors open

by Jennifer Yos

LANSING, Ill. (March 30, 2020) – The Lansing Public Library, along with other Illinois libraries, closed its doors for regular business hours on Wednesday, March 18, in response to the COVID-19 quarantine. However, even behind closed doors, the Lansing Public Library is keeping its commitment to serve the public. Library Director Debbie Albrecht reports that library staff have been wonderful about working from home, and some of the companies that partner with the library have made more services available to students and others needing to access books and information from home.

While the library doors remain shut until further notice, its digital doors are wide open with a variety of free, easily accessible online services—some with special perks offered for a limited time during the COVID-19 containment. A few, but not all, of the online services require a current library card for access. (Lansing Public Library cards with an expiration date between January 1 and June 30, 2020, have been extended to July 4, 2020.) Issuance of new library cards, however, is not available at this time.

The following services have been added or enhanced to serve patrons during the COVID-19 quarantine. Detailed descriptions and instructions for these and additional online services can be found on the Lansing Public Library’s Online Resources page at lansingpl.org (the main source used for this article).

National Emergency Library

Patrons can immediately (as in no more waitlists) check out any of the 1.4 million books currently in the lending library. Internet Archive has suspended all waitlists until June 30t or until the US national COVID-19 emergency ends—whichever comes later—and the number of books that can be checked out has been doubled from 5 to 10. See archive.org or openlibrary.org for free registration and access.

SimplyE

Using this free iOS/Android app, patrons can access more than 5,000 ebook titles—from nonfiction and literary classics to children’s books and books in Spanish and French. Simply upload the free app, tap on the “Find Your Library” request, and then scroll down the alphabetical listing to choose Digital Public Library of America. No sign-in or library card required. 

Big Library Read

Patrons are invited to join thousands of readers from around the world in “the world’s largest digital book club.” From March 23–April 13, they can access stand-up comic Michael McCreary’s memoir, Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic, from their public library as an ebook or audiobook with no waitlists or holds. Lansing Public Library readers can join by visiting mediaondemand.overdrive.com or downloading the Libby app, and then discuss online at discuss.biglibraryread.com. This free program, which takes place three times per year, runs for two weeks and requires a Lansing Public Library card to get started.

Biblioboard (Illinois users)

Illinois residents have access to a library of e-books containing several content modules from RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) and access to a variety of OER (Open Educational Resource materials) for unlimited use and download. For example, the Knowledge Unlatched anthology includes over 100 scholarly journals and books covering a variety of fields, including anthropology, gender studies, health and medicine, history, music and performing arts, political science, religious studies, and more. Anyone who is physically in Illinois can access the collection without a login because BiblioBoard Library provides geolocation-based authentication through the IP address of the user’s computer or GPS coordinates of their mobile device. A patron who creates an optional account while in Illinois will be able to access the collection outside the state by logging into their account. Patrons have access to the collections through the BiblioBoard app for iOS or Android.

RBDigital Magazines

The world’s largest online newsstand, this service offers full-color digital magazines for reading on desktops, mobile devices, and apps. The collection of popular digital magazines includes both new and backlist titles. Patrons can check out an unlimited number of magazines for as long as they like and read them instantly on their desktops or mobile browsers at rbdigital.com—or they can check out and download magazines through the mobile app. Sign-up requires a current library card barcode and pin number.

NewsGuard

This browser extension and mobile app tool helps patrons assess the reliability of news they see on social media and in search results, by providing ratings of the news and its sources. A NewsGuard team of trained journalists and experienced editors reviews and rates news and information websites based on nine journalistic criteria that assess credibility and transparency and assign a green (credible) or red (not credible) rating. NewsGuard is now available to library patrons for free until July 1, after which they can access it for free only through their library. Patrons can sign up at newsguardtech.com and receive a link and instructions for how to download NewsGuard to their browser and how to access it on mobile devices using Microsoft Edge browser.

TumbleBookLibrary

A curated Grades K-6 children’s ebook database with free access provided by tumblebooks.com through August 31, 2020. 
• 
Username: tumble735

• Password: books

Teen Book Cloud

A Grades 7–12 online database of ebooks and educator resources, Teen Book Cloud offers a wide selection of graphic novels, enhanced novels, eBooks, classic literature, National Geographic videos, educator resources, and audiobooks.

• Username: tumble2020
• 
Password: A3b5c6

Tumble Math

A comprehensive K-6 database of math picture ebooks that use stories and literature with animation and narration to teach math to reluctant learners. The books include supplementary materials such as lesson plans and quizzes. Click on Quiz Portal for thousands of quizzes created by math teachers specifically for each state standards. Free access provided by tumblebooks.com through August 31, 2020.
• 
Username: tumble2020

• Password: A3b5c6

Romance Book Cloud

Unlimited and unrestricted access to ebooks and audio books of the popular romance genre in fiction. Free access provided by tumblebooks.com through August 31, 2020.
• Username: tumble2020
• 
Password: A3b5c6

Audio Book Cloud

This is an online database of 1,400 audiobooks for schools and libraries with a variety of classic and contemporary titles and genres. Free access is provided by tumblebooks.com through August 31, 2020.
• Username: tumble2020
• 
Password: A3b5c6

Ancestry.com Library Edition

ProQuest has temporarily extended the Ancestry Library Edition subscription to allow the library to offer patrons home access through April 30. Patrons can find a link to Ancestry and other Genealogy Resources on the library’s Online Resources page. A library card barcode and PIN are required.

Extended phone and chat service hours

For questions regarding these services and more, the library phone and online chat services continue to be available to patrons and are being handled remotely.

Phone calls (708-474-2447) are handled:
• Monday–Thursday 9:00am–8:00pm
• Friday–Saturday 9:00am–5:00pm

• Sunday 11:00am–8:00pm

Live chat is available:
• Monday–Thursday 6:00am–11:00pm

• Friday–Saturday 8:00am–8:00pm
• 
Sunday 11:00am–8:00pm

WiFi services still available outside

Those without internet services can still access the Lansing Public Library’s WiFi outside the library both on the front lawn and in most parking areas on School Street and Indiana Avenue.

Chaise chairs give patrons a place to sit outside and use the WiFi. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Additional website services

Both the 2020 Census and 2019 Taxes can be completed through the library website at lansingpl.org. Library patrons can also access library newsletters or sign up for library news e-mails at this site.

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.

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