The Nelson Public Library’s building may be locked, but all kinds of virtual services are available, the chief librarian writes. Photo submitted

The Nelson Public Library’s building may be locked, but all kinds of virtual services are available, the chief librarian writes. Photo submitted

COLUMN: Despite physical closure, library services continue online

The Nelson Public Library’s building may be locked, but all kinds of virtual services are available

By Tracey Therrien

The Nelson online library is open 24-7. What does that mean? With your library card you can access eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, online courses and streaming video anytime from anywhere.

Although the library building is currently closed, library staff is available to answer your questions and get you started, including setting you up with a library card if you don’t already have one. You can reach us by email or phone: library@nelson.ca or 250-352-6333. Don’t worry about getting your books and other items back to the library anytime soon, we have extended all due dates to May 2: even more time to enjoy them!

We know the library means more than books to many of you and while we are all treading through uncertain times, at the library we are adapting the way we deliver our services, too. When we closed the library doors, staff immediately started brainstorming how we could continue to provide services, helping maintain a sense of normality in the community.

Visit the library’s website at nelsonlibrary.ca and you’ll already see those changes. All our online services are front and centre: whether you want to read, watch and listen or learn, it’s all one click away. Our social media channels have video tutorials on how to download library apps, manage your online library account, upload eBooks or get started with Lynda.com (top-quality technology and business courses taught by recognized industry experts) or GaleCourses (hundreds of highly interactive instructor-led course on all kinds of subjects).

You’ll start seeing opportunities to join library book clubs online, and you’ll see familiar library faces sharing their favourite books and podcasts. For families at home, staff is busy putting together opportunities to help keep kids busy with educational and fun online resources. Rather than sorting through the thousands of hits on Google we are doing the work for you. Curated staff lists of resources will help streamline the process and get you and your family started more quickly. Sound familiar? Yes we are continuing doing what we do best, helping you find what you need.

Following important orders from health officials, such as staying at home and practicing social distancing, is difficult but can also be an opportunity to set new goals for ourselves or reboot old ones: learn a new language, pick up that craft project tucked away, research your family’s genealogy, write a memoir or learn about web development or digital photography. Yes, the list of online learning courses available with your library card is endless: now is the time to conquer some of those goals.

Technology is great, and it’s certainly helping ease the stress, but like many of you I have elderly family and friends who are not comfortable using technology. We are addressing this as well. Our popular Book-a-Librarian program will be restructured to provide over-the-phone help with basic technology questions.

As much as libraries are about books they are about people and stories. Now is a great opportunity for all of us to slow down and start sharing our stories. Listen to our elders’ stories, write your own, and encourage our youth to capture theirs. Pick-up the phone, holler over the fence or meet up online to share.

Take the time and find the space to let your natural storytelling selves grow. Stories keep people connected, and right now that’s what we need most.

Tracey Therrien is the chief librarian of the Nelson Public Library.