During these strange times, families are faced with difficult situations they may have never considered. Many are struggling due to job loss, the loss of childcare, whether or not to homeschool, the feeling of isolation, fear of getting sick, loss of community, and not being able to connect with family, friends, and neighbors on a daily basis. Libraries are uniquely positioned to respond to a community’s needs in tough times such as this.

While libraries have always had materials, resources, programs and services available for free, many libraries right here in our community have truly stepped up to provide much more for you and your families during COVID-19. Since closing our doors in mid-March, the Fairmount Community Library has been committed to reaching our patrons in unique and innovative ways. We offer online preschool programs and educational programs for school-aged children, via our website, fairmountlibrary.org/children. Other area libraries are offering similar resources.

In addition, our library educators prepared summer learning kits available for curbside contact-less pickup so that families could follow our YouTube channel filled with short educational lessons to go along with our fun, hands-on learning. We sent home caterpillars, bottle rockets, materials for cooking, supplies for rainforest slime, and even adopted Annie, a manatee from Florida Manatee Sanctuary to teach children all about animal conservation!

As with other local libraries, our programs will continue to expand during the fall season. We know many families have decided to keep their children home from school, a difficult decision for any parent. We will offer more educational kits for curbside pickup including innovative STEM kits. In an effort to help supplement learning, we are offering curriculum support and printable monthly lesson plans for children ages 2-8. If you are faced with your first year of home school education, many libraries have expansive collections of home-school resources available for your family. Our website offers free online tutoring for students and job search assistance for adults.

This fall, the Fairmount Community Library will be working with local arts & cultural organizations. We want to offer access to the arts community which has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. We are currently planning online virtual events with Syracuse’s Symphoria and the Everson Museum, allowing our patrons access to the arts when we cannot be present in person. We believe these partnerships are important in instilling an appreciation for music and the arts with our library’s families. We are also expanding our collections to include craft kits, jewelry making and beading, baking supplies, and more for families who want to engage in skill building with their children. Other local libraries offer similar collections.

Our libraries are here to support our communities during these difficult times. Tell us what you need; we are here for you. Go to onlib.org to find the help you need to meet these challenging times. If you don’t see what you need, just ask.  We are here and ready to help.

Brenda Shea is the Director of the Fairmount Community Library.

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