Frisco closed the library March 16 and suspended its curbside and drive-thru pickup March 28. However, Library Director Shelley Holley said the city facility is still offering regular story times and other programs through its social media pages and has already boosted its e-book and e-audiobook offerings on its website.
For families with children at home, the library is releasing 14 videos per week on its Facebook page that correspond with its regular story time schedule.
“We were initially doing them with Facebook Live, but then, we realized if we tape them and just put them out there that day, then, you can come to them any time during the day without too much difficulty,” Holley said.
She said the library has gotten “great feedback” for those as well as for the two puppet shows that are being released each week.
“Who knew all these librarians were dying to be social media stars?” Holley said with a laugh. “We were surprised—the very first story time we released, we got well over 5,000 views. People hunger for being able to kind of keep up some semblance of the routine they're used to.”
The library has also adjusted the availability of its online tutoring service, Brainfuse, which offers students live assistance with homework questions. That service is now available daily from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
“Students from [kindergarten] to 12[th grade] can go online and get live tutoring help,” Holley said. “And then, outside of those hours, there's also lots of support for learning that's part of the tutoring website.”
While that homework help service has always been popular, Holley said it is especially valuable now as parents are helping oversee eLearning.
“I think parents are excited to know that they don't have to know new math,” she said. “I know I would be challenged if I needed to do my senior’s calculus, so it's nice to know I have somebody else who can help.”
For readers of all ages, the Frisco library added 2,000 new e-books to its collection over the last few weeks, Holley said.
“We buy a certain number of books every month so that we have the newest titles, and so we pivoted from buying print to buying e-books,” Holley said. “That's a 250% increase over the number of e-books we added in February.”
That pivot by library staff has already helped out many Frisco readers, as Holley said the number of e-book checkouts in the last two weeks of March was 30% higher than in the first two weeks.
Though e-books are digital, she explained many are still only available for one person at a time. For a smaller percentage of e-books, she said, the library is able to buy licenses that allow simultaneous use.
“Some of [those licenses] are unlimited simultaneous use, [and] some are some number of simultaneous uses,” Holley said. “Among those 2,000 additional e-books that we bought, about 100 of them are unlimited simultaneous use.”
For those that are running into issues finding e-books available for checkout, Holley noted the library’s website always highlights titles that are currently available to be checked out.
“If you do a search and pick out a book that's super popular, you may end up on a hold,” Holley said. “But we always push [out] at people what you can have right now.”
Anyone who currently has physical items checked out from the library from when it was open, Holley said, is free to keep those until the facility reopens once the stay-at-home orders have been lifted. She said no late fees will accumulate on items previously checked out for the duration of the city’s coronavirus-related orders.
While many of the library's regular users are taking advantage of the digital services, residents without a library card can still obtain one.
“We've made the process much easier for getting a library card,” Holley said. “If you're a Frisco resident and you don't have a library card yet, you can go online to our website, apply, be verified and you get your library card number. You can just enter that number in on the library's website and check stuff out right then and there.”
Holley also wanted to share the following information with the public:
- Librarians are available via chat on the library’s website, over the phone and though email for people that have questions or concerns.
- Holds have been frozen, so anyone waiting on an item will not lose their place in line once that service resumes.
- With the library closed, it is currently not offering its passport application service.
- The library is also currently not accepting donations of any books, DVDs or physical media.
- While the library is closed, staff members are working to clean Frisco’s book collection and checking items that may need to be repaired or replaced.