Some may see it as misfortune. The Kern County Library sees it as opportunity.

Despite having to temporarily close all of its branches due to the stay-at-home order, the Kern County Library is still able to serve its members by showcasing its wide array of digital services. It’s nothing new for the library, but it is something that’s not commonly associated with a traditional library experience.

“As we became physically closed, it’s been a wonderful way to remind people that our website and our platforms are still there and are still accessible,” Kern County Library marketing and promotions associate Jasmin LoBasso said. “Those are not dependent on our physical buildings.”

With Overdrive, Hoopla and RB Digital, members have access to tens of thousands of e-books, audiobooks, music, TV shows and more. All they need is their library card.

Overdrive mimics a more traditional library model in a virtual space, offering e-books and audiobooks in limited quantities. If a product is checked out, users can request it and receive a notification when it’s available. Users can also hear audiobook samples, which can be crucial to listeners.

“Voices impact audiobooks so much,” LoBasso said.

Hoopla and RB Digital offer products instantly with no wait. In addition to e-books and audiobooks, Hoopla also features music, movies and TV shows. RB Digital contains a robust audiobook library spanning over 8,000 titles, making reading more accessible and convenient than ever before.

“There’s a large community of people that really love to listen to audiobooks during their commutes or when they’re at home taking care of tasks,” LoBasso said. “Audiobooks are a wonderful way for people to read when they think they don’t have time to read.”

Kern County Library members also get free access to The New York Times and Pronunciator, a language-learning program that lets users learn any of 87 languages, complete with live teachers and more. And since all the products are digital, returns are automatic. If readers want to check out an unfinished book again, they will pick up right where they left off.

All platforms are accessible on computers and mobile devices. Once users create an account, they’ll be prompted to identify their local library and input their library card. For those who don’t have a card or need a replacement, digital cards are offered through www.kerncountylibrary.org.

The Kern County Library will also host its annual summer reading challenge, starting June 1 and running through July. Progress will be tracked through Kern County Library’s Beanstack platform and prizes will be offered digitally. Digital badges can also be earned through the Beanstack app by completing various reading challenges.

Virtual programming will also be offered throughout the summer. For up-to-date information, go to www.kerncountylibrary.org or the Kern County Library branch Facebook pages.

Through its virtual and digital offerings, the Kern County Library is finding ways to keep the community engaged and entertained, connecting and reconnecting people to the library.

“We are seeing not just longtime patrons that have not been interested in exploring those digital access points, but also people that have not touched library services in years either,” LoBasso said. “I think that the ability to access our services, not just from the comfort of your own home but also immediately, especially as people become more busy in their lives, has been a really wonderful way to show people that we can be involved and help you get entertainment and provide learning opportunities without physically going into a branch.” 

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