BY JESSICA CARRUBA
The forthcoming change in season not only means cooler temperatures, but also indicates a new stage of pandemic life, as teachers and students head back to school, an institution that will look remarkably different from any other version it has been before. A new type of anxiety has emerged. Questions surrounding the safety of students and teachers, concerns about the quality and logistics of learning and stresses over childcare all weigh on the minds of parents, caregivers, teachers and administrators.
At a time like this, community support is more important than ever. As always, the Levittown Public Library is standing by to assist parents, students, and teachers as best and as safely as possible. Of course, there is no way to predict how COVID will continue to impact their services, but the library will keep doing its work through virtual means–and in person when possible–just as it has been throughout this ordeal.
Those unfamiliar with library culture might not be aware of the many hidden gems one can access through the Levittown Public Library, many of which are even more pertinent as we consider this new era of education during COVID. At the top of this list is the library’s cache of databases, which serve as portals to well-organized, peer-reviewed, factual information. Databases can be used to research reports, provide one-on-one tutoring, connect readers to primary sources, and assist with college admissions. Believe it or not, there are school reports for which age-appropriate books do not exist or are not readily available. The beauty of a database is that with just a library card, the essential information is at your fingertips.
A few especially helpful resources students should keep in mind during the school year include: Biography in Context, Khan Academy, Learning Express Library, NoveList Plus and NoveList Plus K-8, Tutor.com, and World Book (World Book Kids, World Book Online, World Book Student, World Book Timelines). A full list of databases, arranged alphabetically and by subject, can be found on the library homepage, levittownpl.org, under “Research & History.” Those well-suited for children and teens can be found under their department headings on the main banner.
The library website also includes useful resource lists and links to government agencies. To locate them, those interested should select the heading “Adults,” followed by the subheading “Online Government Resources.” From there, you can find COVID-19 Resources, Employment Assistance, Help for Homeowners, and Helpful Resources, which includes links to the FDA, the EPA, product recalls, and more.
A staple of any public library is its programming. Library programs provide opportunities for socialization, personal enrichment, education, and of course, enjoyment. While the library building was closed this spring, staff transitioned to virtual programming, making use of Zoom and social media to connect with the community. At this time, programs will remain virtual at least through the fall. According to Jackie Fitts, Head of Children’s Services, the pandemic has proved that the library is much more than a physical building. She says, “We always had a presence on social media, but during the shutdown we really learned to embrace the virtual world, using it to connect with our families, letting them know we are still here for them. We will continue to use this medium to help children and parents navigate through this time, making us even better prepared for the future and the new normal we are now living in.”
The Children’s and Young Adult Departments are paying special attention to the unique needs of parents and students during this unprecedented time. Discussion-based programs led by parenting coaches and other experts are common fixtures on the calendar. A safe (virtual) space is created for caregivers to unwind, commiserate, and learn various strategies and tips for navigating the peaks and valleys of parenting. An upcoming Parenting Circle will be offered on September 23 through the Children’s Department.
For teens and their families, the Young Adult Department organizes regular programs geared to test preparation and higher education, including college readiness. It has become especially helpful to have knowledgeable insiders who can explain the fluctuating nature of college admissions, entrance exams, and campus life during COVID. Upcoming programs include Nassau Community College & Adelphi University Admissions Panel (9/17) and SUNY Admissions 101 (9/29). There are also several fall workshops for test preparation. This includes an ACT Crash Course on October 6 and a SAT Crash Course on October 26. The SAT Study Group, which has meetings in September and October, is currently full with a waiting list available.
In addition, all departments will continue to provide other enrichment programs, albeit via virtual platforms, including: arts and crafts, STEAM, storytimes, cooking, educational lectures, and more. All programs require online pre-registration.
Lastly, the Reference Department continues to offer tech help to patrons in need. Appointments can be scheduled with Reference librarians to learn how to download ebooks, audiobooks, watch streaming videos and more with your library card. Email email@example.com or call the Reference Department at 516-731-5728 for more information and to learn about other digital resources available through the Library.
The Levittown Public Library is open regular hours for Browse & Go, during which patrons are limited to one hour in the Library per visit. LPL To Go is still available for contactless pick up. Librarians are available to answer reference questions by email or chat Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For email, you can reach librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org. To chat with a librarian, visit the Library’s homepage and click “Chat with us” on the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Manny Mavrikakis, Head of the Reference Department, encourages the community to keep in touch with the Adult Reference Department for information about the many online resources available, from learning courses to downloadable Kindles and everything in between.
Library staff wishes the best of luck to everyone heading back to the classroom this month, whether your classroom is in a school or it’s your kitchen table with a laptop. No matter what school looks like this year, the library is ready to make it a great year for learning.