Victoria Public Library patrons can’t browse the shelves in person right now, but library staff are still on hand to help them find the books they need.
“Some people call us and tell us exactly what they want because they’ve looked at the online catalog,” said library Director Dayna Williams-Capone. “Sometimes they just have an idea. They say, ‘My child loves dogs and monster trucks. Can you get me 10 books?’ or ‘My child loves Dr. Seuss,’ and we pull those books for them.”
Ever since the building closed to the public March 21, the library has been offering drive-thru pickup of books and other materials. Williams-Capone said the service has been a success, with daily car counts ranging from the high 20s to as many as sixty-five.
On April 3, Mayor Rawley McCoy amended the City of Victoria’s “Stay Home – Stay Safe” order to include libraries and hotels as essential services. This change allows library staff to come to the library building to provide services like the drive-thru pickup.
Williams-Capone said it’s important for the library to continue to serve the public during a time when many other resources are unavailable.
“A lot of day-to-day activities are shutting down, like schools and museums,” Williams-Capone said. “We’re providing an important educational and recreational resource.”
For those who prefer to stay home, the library has been expanding its offerings through OverDrive, an online ebook and audiobook service, and Flipster, a virtual magazine provider.
“We’re buying new materials almost every day,” Williams-Capone said.
The library has also had to shift its event programming to a virtual format, which has brought its own challenges along with new possibilities. For example, the library has been broadcasting children’s storytime via Facebook, which allows parents to comment or message the library asking for their child to receive a shoutout during the livestream.
“The kids get excited,” Williams-Capone said. “For them, it’s like hearing their name on TV.”
One challenge associated with the transition has been determining which types of events work well in a digital format. For example, the library recently hosted a collage-making event, which Williams-Capone said was difficult because of the inability to interact easily.
“When you’re face-to-face doing artwork, it’s a physical thing, and online it doesn’t translate well,” she said. “If we do future art projects, we’ll have to rethink how we do it.”
The library has had more success with events that encourage interaction between participants, such as book discussions and trivia nights hosted through the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Recent trivia topics have included Harry Potter and women in literature, and already the event has drawn teams from Chicago, Los Angeles and Australia.
“We’re learning a lot here,” Williams-Capone said.
Among the other things happening behind the scenes, the library is continuing with the reflooring project that was announced earlier this year. Recently, the library posted a short video on Facebook showing the empty main room with all the shelves cleared away so that the carpet can be replaced.
The reflooring project remains scheduled for completion about May 19.
“It’s going much smoother than we expected,” Williams-Capone said.
For more information about library events and services, call 361-485-3301 or visit the library’s Facebook page.