Last year, we began work on two new library projects. The first was a digital history of the city of Huachuca City. The second was a  tech literacy project for Cochise County, which was focused on increasing the digital literacy skills of our rural population, including those older,  less served, and with lower levels of technology literacy. Through this project, we put together a mobile technology lab and offered basic technology literacy classes, as well as individual technology help and support.

It was a well received project. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and all in-person programming at libraries was put on hold indefinitely.

For most, including those at schools, there was a relatively quick pivot to online instruction, but that wasn’t feasible for a program like this that was focused on those with very low tech skills. Our work before the pandemic had been successful largely because we sat down with people one on one and worked with them on their specific questions and problems on their own devices.

So we were asked to reconfigure the program to do other but related work.

Ultimately, we decided on a split focus, including a continued tech learning program and a low- or no-tech creativity program. The tech learning program has included phone and email tech support, as well as some Facebook video segments. The uptake on this has been light as we expected, but much appreciated when it has been done.

The creativity program took the form of a Creativity Club for Adults that could be done remotely with little or no technology. This six week program has included activities like postcard making, rock painting, and doodling. Each week includes a short video, as well as related resources and activities. This has been well received and distributed primarily through Facebook.

One nice side benefit of this program is that has allowed us to connect to other library work like our Creativity in a Box kits.

I am also encouraged about the opportunity to continue to use and remix the content of this program for other purposes.

This work wouldn’t have been possible without all I learned from my CLMOOC friends. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try this.

I greatly appreciate our local libraries, and like others, their work has been made much more challenging during this unique period. While our libraries closed for several months during the pandemic, they continued to offer wifi, as well as ebooks and other electronic services throughout. Now they have begun curbside service and some other limited services by appointment. I appreciate that they are being cautious about full openings.

I hope that our libraries continue to be supported, because they are cornerstones of our communities.

Libraries pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic

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