The pandemic gave us a chance to adapt and take on services
The world is slowly returning to a regular, if slightly varied, hum. Although the past two years have been uncertain and often frightening, they have provided us with an opportunity to sit down and look at the needs of our community and ministries on a deeper level.
We at the library have had the great privilege of having the help of the citizens of Pflugerville in virtually every aspect of our services. We have smart, fun, and creative staff who reflect the citizens we serve. The pandemic enabled us, on the advice of the library board, to ask our guests for feedback directly in two surveys. The information gathered from the surveys will help us on our way to a new normal.
We asked the community what they want from the library. In both surveys, the community said that 76% of respondents thought we were doing well or great during the pandemic. Based on the results, we have retained several things that were introduced during the pandemic, including roadside service, longer checkout times, longer reservation times, on-demand adult programs, higher checkout limits, and more.
New services highlighted include:
• The Seed Library: Anyone can request seeds and library membership is not required. With this new collection, the library hopes to promote biodiversity, support local gardeners, make healthy food more accessible and sustainable, and connect gardeners to information. This new collection was launched in partnership with Central Texas Seed Savers, a grassroots group of gardeners, gardeners and social activists who set up a storage and exchange system for landrace seeds, heirlooms, locally adapted and indigenous varieties of fruits, vegetables and other established crops in the Central Texas region.
• Brainfuse’s HelpNow and VetNow: The Pflugerville Public Library provides resources to assist students with eLearning and virtual tutoring, as well as free career and academic assistance for veterans transitioning into civilian life. HelpNow offers eLearning and virtual tutoring on demand, anytime and anywhere, for fixed hours, seven days a week for all ages and levels. VetNow provides free career and academic support to veterans entering civil life.
In addition to surveys, we measure the impact of libraries on the community by keeping up with online ratings and guest feedback. Online reviews are less cautious and people feel a certain amount of anonymity, which adds to their willingness to speak up. Here are some examples of reviews that show our impact on the community:
“These people are very helpful. The library supported the community before, during and after COVID. Lots of options like WIFI hotspot checkout, movies, eBooks and audio books online. My tax money is well invested! ”- W, 2021
“We all love this place. They have fantastic monthly events for kids. They have a huge collection of books for all ages. During COVID they do such a great job making sure we get access to books and they make art kits.” we pick them up every month and the kids love to do it at home. We love this library. ” – T, 2021
Last year we had more than 49,000 library visits. In a typical year without a pandemic, we would see over 200,000 and we expect to return to those numbers. Our eResources have been used 310,000 times, which is a significant increase. We also added some new eResources to meet the changing needs of the community and to help as many people as possible. These additions include free online tutoring, career and educational resources, craft resources, and advanced eBook offerings from Overdrive, and more.
The library’s influence on the community has been many. We have distributed 1,200 books via our drive-through trunk or treat and collected more than 5,000 items such as toothbrushes, combs, toiletries, etc. to distribute to those in need via our care cabinet and care kits.
That year, the Pflugerville Public Library began a collaboration with MakerGirl, thanks to generous funding from sponsor EOS North America. This series of virtual programs enables children to experience 3D design and printing.
We have joined the Greater Austin Reading Coalition and Success by 6 Coalition to increase the library’s positive impact on the community and to enable all young readers in our service space to take advantage of the resources, services, and activities brought to them by the Library are available.
The Library Friends once again went above and beyond that by working with the library to apply for a grant and received $ 5,000 from United Way’s Greater Austin Reading Coalition. The funds will be used to support a community-wide festival in spring where families and children are brought together in small groups to read aloud.
The Young Adult Library Services Association awarded Amanda Cawthon, Senior Librarian and Director of Youth Services, the Margaret A. Edwards Award 2021 for Best Youth Literature Program for their DiversiTeen Book Club program.
Congratulations also go to adult service librarian Meg Miller, who has received a US $ 2,500 grant from the Texas Book Festival. The grant was used to improve the adult library’s comic book and manga collections.
Pflugerville Community Development Corporation continues to support the library by providing small business funding and workforce development. Deputy Director Daniel Berra has worked with PCDC to provide resources such as LinkedIn Learning and GALE Business Resources.
Art exhibitions are back! With the reopening of the library building, we are again able to present local artists in all media from drawing to painting and more.
In terms of historic preservation, we’re continuing to expand the Pflugerville Digital History Project, most recently a Black History Collection. Upcoming history endeavors will include a Did You Know? Role on social media led by Peter Shugart, director of library technology. This feature will highlight the little-known history of Pflugerville and the surrounding area.
Finally, in writing this article, we started some limited personal programming with the intention of adding more at the beginning of the year. We hope that returning to the programs will help our community return to “normal”. We have missed our people and hope to see our community back at the library soon.
Thank you again, Pflugerville!
Jennifer Griswold is the director of the Pflugerville Public Library.