Det Library mobile pic
The Mobile Library parks in front of the Franklin Branch of the Detroit Public Library.
Photo provided by Detroit Public Library
When the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world as we knew it, many businesses shuttered, schools closed, and restaurants, among other places, scrambled.
But what of the library?
This institution that is the Detroit Public Library had to close, too. But they’re back at it (and have been since last year) in a reimagined way, connecting with beloved patrons who both cherish books as well as bonding with the friendly staff members.
The main library and six neighborhood branches (Campbell, Edison, Jefferson, Parkman, Redford and Wilder) reopened for limited-service back on September 28 after being closed since last March. To provide library services in those neighborhoods where a branch remained closed, their Mobile Library created a weekly schedule visiting those locations, Katie Dowgiewicz, Detroit Public Library public relations specialist, told The Michigan Chronicle. At these stops, customers can pick up books they’ve put on hold, access the free Wi-Fi, or even have use of a laptop or tablet for an hour.
“This summer the Detroit Public Library plans to increase library access by extending in-person service hours at our open locations,” Dowgiewicz said. “With this strategy, the library can continue to accommodate customers while still maintaining safe and sustainable library services. What this means for customers, is that the Main Library and the six branches will now be open until 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday along with our standard Friday and weekend hours.”
Dowgiewicz added that in this past year, the library shifted towards their digital offerings–including an increase in the use of their e-Book collection, digital databases and social media.
“The library website, e-newsletter and social media have become the primary means to communicate with our customers and promote our services,” she said.
Some of the initiatives that the library now includes in their “Laptop to Go” program include:
- Customers can check out a laptop for 90 days.
- Chat with a librarian feature on its website is available.
- Virtual story times, recorded by children’s librarians.
- Increased virtual programs offering author talks, journaling and creative writing workshops, book clubs, artist discussions and more.
Regina B. Smith, the coordinator for the Detroit Public Library Douglass Branch for Specialized Services, told The Michigan Chronicle that during the summer months, starting on Monday, June 7, the Mobile Library will provide outreach to local community events as well as continue to visit the Detroit Public Library Branches that are closed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith said that the library wants the community to know that “we’re still in the community” and through partnerships with community organizations, there are additional programming options coupled with the Mobile Library visits to engage patrons more.
“The people that we’ve seen were so appreciative and happy that we still found a way to be there in the community,” Smith said. “So, the library is so important to the community, and you see how much people show you that they appreciate that you are there.”
Smith said that she is “happy” to be a part of providing those resources to the community, even still today.
“We were so closed and isolated — it’s just nice to be able to have a place that you can go and get your needs met,” Smith said. “It’s been something but we’re making it happen.”
For more information on the Mobile Library visit https://detroitpubliclibrary.org/locations/mobile-library.