Library starts curbside pickup: Temporary e-card also launched as remote services grow

Whitesboro resident Suze Prelle picks up her movie during the Cooke County Library’s pickup period Thursday, March 26. The library is allowing patrons to call in or reserve items they want to borrow online and has expanded its digital services, too.

The Cooke County Library is changing with the times. With the new coronavirus halting most in-person services in Cooke County, the library is doing its part to make sure it provides people with books, movies and other programs during this shut-in process.

Since closing Monday, March 16, the library has transitioned to curbside pickup on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Cooke County residents that still want to access the library’s selection of books and movies.

Jennifer Johnson-Spence, the director at the Cooke County Library, said it is important for people to keep entertained while they are stuck inside.

“For people with a library card in the past two years, one of the most important things it helps with is the social distancing and entertaining,” Johnson-Spence said. “It’s keeping people busy. It’s allowing them to watch movies together as a family or pick out some books to read as a family.”

Johnson-Spence said there are two ways to reserve materials to be set outside to pick up.

“People need to reserve the items online through the account and if they can’t do that, someone can call and we’ll work them through it,” Johnson-Spence said. “They just need to have a library card. They call us when they’re out front and we put a bag out front and they go back to their vehicle. It’s very easy.”

Especially during these times, Johnson-Spence said it’s important to keep the mind engaged.

“I’m not one of those people that believe when you read the back of a cereal box that it doesn’t count,” Johnson-Spence said. “If you can read anything, you’re learning. Some people want to read non-fiction and sometimes non-fiction is stranger than fiction. It helps continue literacy skills. It helps keep people together. As long as we’re doing that, that helps benefit our community.”

The library is offering more than just curbside service. Several facets of the library can be accessed digitally through its website.

“We’re offering a temporary digital e-card,” Johnson-Spence said. “You go to our website and click through the slideshow and when you fill out this survey you get access to e-books and e-audiobooks and rocket languages. There’s at least 15 languages. Freegal is our music streaming service and you can stream three hours a day and download five songs a week. We also have a magazine service and comic books. There’s all kinds of stuff on there.”

The temporary e-card will last until June 1.

There are also streaming classes available for children and the library is celebrating National Scribble Day on Friday, March 27, with a class on Facebook Live at 10:30 a.m. There are also art classes and STEM classes available.

“We knew people couldn’t afford to go out of town so we tried to have these classes for them,” Johnson-Spence said. “National Scribble Day was scheduled even before all this and she was planning on them coming in to scribble and have them put them all together to make one big thing. She’ll have them scribble and it’s a fun thing to do. It’s good.”

With Johnson-Spence unable to come to work due to her cardiologist’s recommendation, she is over the moon about how supportive and hardworking her staff has been.

“I’m only as good as I am because of the people that work for me,” Johnson-Spence said. “Without my staff, the library wouldn’t be what it is, especially with me being at home due to recommendations from my doctor. They’re answering questions and calming people down. We have a young lady that does a weekly children’s class that are live on Facebook. She does a song or a physical activity and on St. Patrick’s Day, she had them do leprechaun traps and she had them do a bear hunt map.”

Finally, the library is making internet access available to everyone as they can park in the parking lot and connect to its open WiFi.

The name of the internet is ccpl and the password is C00kectyLIB.

Johnson-Spence said providing people with internet options is important to her.

“One of the first things we did after we closed was to put on our social media what our WiFi and password network was,” Johnson-Spence said. “People that didn’t have WiFi would have access to that. We have lots of people that sit in their cars. We knew we needed to get that up there and make sure people have access because we live in a rural community and it’s hard to access. There are all kinds of issues.”

The library’s website is cookecountylibrary.org and its phone number is 940-668-5530.

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