Scranton Library Expands Digital Offerings, Online Book Club and Remote Story Time in Response to Crisis



By Jesse Williams / • 03/31/2020 3:18 PM EST

Like almost every other library in the state, EC Scranton has closed its physical location indefinitely in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That doesn’t mean the library is going to stay away from the current crisis, according to director Sunnie Scarpa.

After a wave of activity following state and locally imposed shutdowns two weeks ago, EC Scranton has expanded its digital services and is preparing to launch a host of new programs, aimed at entertaining, educating and connecting people. residents despite social distancing measures.

“If we go back to the kind of fundamental goal of the library, it’s really a mission that transcends a lot of these issues,” said Scarpa. “So how do we connect people to the information that will help them in their lives and then keep them entertained? So if you think of it that way, there is still a lot we can do. “

Scarpa said library staff have to scramble to make sure they can still do things like renew library cards and access essential materials after closure.

After that, Scarpa said she and the other librarians started looking for ways to do even more during the shutdown, including expanding their online catalog of e-books, providing a free digital movie streaming service, and subscribing to educational resources for parents and children. during the school closure, and the launch of a pilot virtual book club, which will meet for the first time this week.

“We are actively looking for opportunities… where we can make even more available,” she said.

One of the first things the library did was use some “flexibility” in the budget and pay to expand the availability of eBooks and audiobooks through the Overdrive service, accessible through the website. EC Scranton.

The process of adding all of these titles is underway, Scarpa said, and is focusing on the most in-demand titles, especially important right now, as people across the country and across the state pile up. to try to download the most popular books, increasing wait times.

Another digital service offered by the library is movie streaming through a service called Kanopy, which offers a catalog of popular Netflix-sized movies, ranging from recently released Hollywood blockbusters to documentaries to entertainment for children, completely free for library card holders, but with a limited number of views per month.

Other subscription services started offering their services for free during the crisis, Scarpa said, which is benefiting the library as well. Notably, Tumble Book, a service focused on both education and entertainment, including math learning resources and e-books for the youngest, is now free and accessible through the Scranton website.

According to Scarpa, there has also been a focus on offers for children trapped at home who may be struggling with the new restrictions and the monotony of being confined indoors for long periods of time.

Another change made nationally in response to the current crisis is that many publishers are relaxing copyright restrictions on books, especially children’s books. This allows Scranton and other organizations to do live or recorded storytime sessions, according to Scarpa, with librarians reading aloud and showing pictures to young readers.

A library worker, named Miss Tessa, has already started uploading storytime videos as well as home crafts to EC Scranton’s YouTube page, and Scarpa said that the library will be launching a regular feed of live stories on Facebook starting this week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with slots for different age groups.

Not just entertainment

For adults, Scarpa pointed out that another of those fundamental purposes of a library is to help people cope, comfort and entertain, and that residents could hopefully find solace in a living room. genre or preferred author like many other mechanisms or practices are no longer available.

“There aren’t a lot of options for us for stress relief activities right now,” she said. “Usually, we go to the gym, we go out for a drink with a friend. And these aren’t options, so I think it’s more important than ever to give people access to something that can help them take a break. “

Despite all the restrictions on socializing, Scarpa said the library continues to explore ways to help people connect, something that is “a little more difficult right now”, though still part of the story. mission of the library.

The first big project in this regard will be a video-conference virtual book club called Novels & Nibbles, launched on Thursday, April 2, which Scarpa says will begin with the simple aim of bringing people together to talk about books that have comforted them. no reading list or literary analysis required.

“If other people are like, ‘I just want to see a human face,’ that will kind of be a way of bringing people together virtually to talk to each other and still have a social outlet when we’re so limited right now. Scarpa said. “You can call someone you know on the phone, but how do you meet people? “

Scarpa said if the book club proves popular, the library will continue to hold onto them, with the potential to expand and with new themes with each session.

With no end currently in sight for the pandemic lockdown, EC Scranton will continue to provide these and more important services to the Madison community, asserting services for as long as needed, according to Scarpa, and will not allow the many restrictions placed on the community. society to prevent people from being entertained, informed and connected.

Case in point: While the library can now easily renew expired cards remotely, Scarpa said there is technically no way to sign up a new client for a library card without some sort of in-person meeting due. state-level restrictions. But she said if someone contacted her or the library hoping to purchase a card during this difficult time, she would.

“Just send us an email … and we’ll find a way.” We will find a solution, ”said Scarpa.

To access the library’s digital services, visit



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