Ruth Ann Ruiz, The Post Newspaper Features Writer.
By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Writer
Tutor.com, a service that provides live tutors in every subject and age level is now available to the La Marque community through the efforts of its Library Director, Amy Miller.
“All you need is a library card to access the service,” Miller explained. This program was one of several on-line systems added during the closure necessitated by the pandemic.
Miller remembers Friday March 13, 2020 with a grimace as she had to shutter the La Marque Public Library not knowing what the future would hold for the library, the community, or herself.
After one week of working remotely, she and her staff were eager to get back into the building. They wanted to tackle some of the much-needed improvement projects that they had dreamed of seeing completed.
“She put in a request to paint the interior walls and move some things around in the library,” said La Marque City Manager Charles Jackson. He agreed, and the city’s public works department supplied the needed materials. Miller, with her staff of three, returned to the library, moved bookshelves, did all needed prep work for painting and the gave the library a makeover with fresh paint and other housekeeping details.
Along with physically rejuvenating the library, Miller also began the task of continuing to provide services to the community while following all CDC social distance guidelines.
Patrons were directed to use on-line checkout with curbside pickup. The children’s librarian created craft projects which were distributed curbside. Children’s story-time was moved to a virtual experience. If you had a question or need that the library could provide, the staff did not break their chain of response to all who inquired via e-mail or phone.
Half of the library’s public computers were removed so that patrons would be able to social distance and access the computers. Miller upgraded the library’s software to include a program allowing for staff to assist computer users from a safe distance. Plexiglass was installed, hand sanitizer was brought in, masks were mandated, and patrons were asked to call for an appointment before coming in to use the computers.
Miller found additional on-line offerings for all library card holders to access. One such program is Hoopla, which allows patrons to check out movies, games and books that are streamed on their devices for one month. Patrons will soon be able to borrow devices which provide hotspots for accessing the internet.
Her efforts have been appreciated by the community.
“She’s fabulous, she was quick to go to work with different on-line platforms for the citizens. She’s the best library director I have ever seen,” said Jackson.
Though the library has been able to provide services to the community, she and her staff cannot interact with individuals in the same way that they have always done. “We miss the connection with some of our daily patrons who would come in to read newspapers, browse for books and chat,” Miller shared.
Miller foresees some of the services derived from the pandemic will continue in the future. She looks forward to the day when the library can once again become a social center with people interacting with each other in person.
Miller, who has been a librarian for 23 years, would like for everyone to know that libraries are more than just physical buildings and books. Libraries are storehouses of knowledge and information. “Don’t be afraid to ask us questions, that’s what we are here for,” she explained. “If you have questions about a sensitive subject matter, we can help you get that information.”