For its resilience and creativity during the pandemic, Anaheim Public Library was recently named Gale and Library Journal’s 2021 Library of the Year.
Virtual programs for the elderly, meals for young people, and take-out science and art kits are some of the new library services that grew out of the need to find ways to serve the community during coronavirus-related shutdowns.
“There was a great turnout from people interested in the online programs and virtual storytelling hours,” said city spokesperson Erin Ryan. “For those who may not feel safe in person, they can still engage online.”
The Library of the Year title comes with a $ 10,000 award sponsored by Gale, part of the Cengage Group, an educational content and technology company. Judging criteria included community service, creating programs that could be emulated by other libraries, and a commitment to equity and inclusion.
“For the library to continue to be a valuable asset to our residents and our community, it’s a really special thing,” said Ryan.
Among the new pandemic library offerings, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) kits have become a favorite among young librarians. Anyone with an Anaheim Public Library card can choose from 183 kits, all of which have different activities and experiences to do at home.
The kits available for purchase are a fun and convenient way for kids and teens to learn about STEAM-related topics and find topics they are passionate about, Ryan said. They are assembled by library staff and cost between $ 50 and $ 400 each.
“One of them has a drone, another has a telescope, and others have fossils,” Ryan said. “These things have a pretty high value that we make available to children. “
Some of the more popular kits have queues of up to three months. Since their release in September 2020, the kits have generated a lot of interest via social media and demo videos filmed by high school volunteers.
The Anaheim Public Library’s mobile branch, which offers library services throughout the city in a 38-foot-long motorhome, has also inspired an ‘Exploration on Wheels’ van that will carry STEAM activities and experiences. learning in neighborhoods and community events. It’s all part of the library’s struggle to make its services accessible to residents, officials said.
In addition to services for young children and their families, the Anaheim Public Library has not forgotten the elderly. He also launched home kits for them, including memory exercises for older people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. High school volunteers also run “Teens Teach Technology” workshops, where they provide virtual technical support to seniors.
The Anaheim Public Library will continue its online programs, for now, Ryan said. Its locations are currently open for viewing STEAM books and kits, reading, and studying, but its popular virtual events, including storytelling times, are yet to transition to in-person formats.
“I think even the librarians and staff take pride in what they do and the services they are able to provide,” Ryan said. “And I think it’s that dedication that speaks to the diversity and the programs they’ve put online, and it validates why they deserve this award.”