Going Virtual: All the Library Has to Offer
Where to Start
We were fortunate that our first shutdown occurred in the spring and early summer, meaning the outdoors was an excellent escape for cabin fever; however, this second shutdown facing St. Louis and its neighboring counties began just as winter is arriving. As temperatures drop down into the low forties, not many people want to take a walk through some of the city's outdoor sites. One resource that is accessible to all residents, is the St. Louis County Library system.
Having a library card for St. Louis County Library means you can use the card in the St. Charles County Library system, and vice versa. Also, it’s important to mention that the majority of services provided by the libraries are completely free, outside of a few virtual author events. People may not know where to start. Fortunately, the libraries have made it more accessible than ever for the residents of St. Louis to take advantage of the resources they provide online.
Typically library cards are issued in person, but seeing that the St. Louis County Library locations are currently closed, they have opened up a “Virtual Branch” which can be found on their homepage, and where people can apply for an online library card. This application process begins by clicking on “Using the Library” and then “Virtual Branch.” The link for applying can then be found on the top of the Virtual Branch page. The library systems have also increased their options for getting in touch with librarians for help. They now offer calling, chatting, emailing, and even texting as options for residents to ask for help on various topics. So if you are experiencing any difficulty in acquiring your online library card, there are many options to receive assistance.
Through the virtual library page, residents can find information on the library’s curb-side pickup for books and other material, the library’s selection of educational apps which can be used for learning new skills, and all the information needed to access the virtual events and programs.
Checking Out eMedia
The voracious readers are probably already aware of the curb-side pickup service offered by the libraries, but the library doesn’t just offer print books. The libraries have a multitude of digital content that can be checked out and viewed for free, such as: ebooks, audiobooks, movies, songs, and magazines.
There is a list of apps available on the St. Louis County Library’s website that can be downloaded and used to view the digital materials. Libby is a great choice for renting audiobooks, as is Overdrive. There is a large selection of audiobooks available to borrow from 7-14 days, depending on the demand of the book. Some of the newer titles are usually limited to 7 days and others can be checked out for up to 14 days. If audiobooks are not available, listeners have the option of putting their name on a waitlist, and then once the audiobook becomes available, the app will notify the user and the book is automatically checked out. Even though the libraries have gotten rid of overdue fees, there is no stress in remembering when an audiobook or ebook is due. The app automatically makes returns. Renewing and returning titles are as easy as pressing a button.
Libraries Are More Than Books
In addition to checking out books and digital material, the library also offers virtual programs, classes, and events. In the past, the library held events in their locations around St. Louis and St. Louis County, but with all of the changes brought on by COVID-19, they have moved their offerings online. Free programs and virtual events are the library’s best kept secret. There are programs directed towards topics like gardening and homesteading such as How to Design a Healthy Orchard and Garden being held on Dec. 1, or Simple Fermentation on Dec. 15. There are also programs for improving health like virtual yoga classes, or learning about finances like the Credit and Money Management Workshop. The library has events for learning about cooking, crafting, genealogy, relationships, and music, just to name a few. These events are held by local organizations here in St. Louis as well as across the U.S. For example, the virtual program for building your own bird sanctuary on Dec. 8 is being hosted by the St. Louis Audubon Society. The need for going virtual has possibly increased the number of programs and events held by the libraries. It has made these educational and fun programs even more accessible to our community.
The St. Louis County Library system has always hosted events where the authors of some of our favorite novels visit the library and talk about their book, their writing process, and being an author. These events haven’t gone anywhere, they too have moved to the online platform. Dates and times for the author events can be found on the library’s homepage, along with details on how to register for events. By signing up for the library’s email updates, people can receive monthly updates on which authors will be holding events with the library. In the in-person author events, people were able to purchase books and receive signatures from their favorite authors, and most events are still offering this option. By purchasing a ticket, some events provide a signed book which is shipped to the buyers home. Author events are a fantastic way to get insight into how a book was written and the process in which writers develop their books. Transitioning to virtual has taken away that in-person element, but has also allowed for more accessibility.
If you are interested in learning more about the St. Louis County library and all of the educational and fun virtual options out there, visit them now at https://www.slcl.org/!