Genesee District Libraries (GDL) are not allowing the public inside the locations, however librarians are busy organizing orders and online programming.

 Katie Badgley, who became branch librarian at the Linden Library this past summer, is handling online and call-in orders.

 “Door Side Pick Up is going well, but I miss having people come in and browse the collection,” she said. “The number of orders I handle in a week is definitely much smaller than the number of transactions pre-pandemic.”

 The COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to allow people inside has changed the way patrons choose what books to read and what movies to watch.

 “Instead of being able to look at our displays of new books, movies, music, and magazines, they either order things online or call me and ask me to pick things out for them. I just picked out 10 new movies for a family that wanted five new kids movies and five new adult movies,” she said. “And a father and son just asked for a bunch of historical fiction, presidential biographies and books on World War II. I like helping people find good books to read, so that is always fun.”

 The staff of two is working on other projects, like taking inventory and rearranging the space.

 “I really look forward to the days when this is all over and I can meet my patrons, especially kids, face-to-face,” she said. “I can’t wait to have families come back again for story times and craft programs. I think we all will appreciate the library as a community gathering place more than ever when this is all over. In the meantime, we will continue to make connections with the community and get people materials as safely as we can.”

 Kelly Flynn, community relations manager at the GDL, said under normal circumstances, all branches offer in-person programs, but due to COVID-19, all programs are virtual. All programming will be virtual until June 1.

 “Attendance is really high, much higher than in-person programs, because we are reaching a whole new audience. We also don’t have space limitations online, so we can serve more people. We offer things for all ages and interests,” she said.

 On Jan. 8, they have a virtual Tween/Teen Game Night. On Jan. 15, they have a program called Needle Drop, where librarian and music buff Ivan Smith will play vinyl records and talk about New Wave pop and rock music. On Jan. 16, magician Joel Tacey will perform magic and stunts. On Jan. 21, they have a trivia program called, Are You Smarter Than a Librarian?

 On Jan. 26, Rosie Chapman will put on an educational and entertaining program about Maya Angelou. On Jan. 28, Terrance Shulman will present a program called Bought Out and Spent: Recovery from Compulsive Shopping and Spending.

 Go to thegdl.org to see the entire lineup of programs.

 Attendance depends on the program. Flynn said Marissa’s Marvelous Story Time attracts an average of 100-300 viewers per session. They’re running virtual escape rooms, and the most recent had 108 participants. An Appalachian Trail Talk with Bethany Griffin had 514 viewers.

 Flynn said while they’re sad to see many things closed, she doesn’t anticipate a negative effect on regular library users and the community.

 “Our patrons can access thousands of digital items 24/7, including ebooks, movies, television, music, magazines and comics. They can place holds online, or call their local branch to place a hold, and pick items up at their branch. They can ask a librarian to choose books for them,” she said.

 Users can browse the catalogue and librarian recommendations at thegdl.org, and they can call and set up a tech tutoring session on using Zoom, FaceTime, or any technology.

 “We’re still here for the community in a wide variety of ways,” she said. “We have had nothing but positive feedback from parents about our programs and story times. Parents who are teaching kids at home are happy to have library resources available, as are school teachers who are teaching remotely. Our Children’s Librarian, Marissa Boisclair, is doing an amazing job of providing fun, educational programs and information for families.”

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