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Creating a ‘library without walls’: Cushman Library maintains nearly all of its services online

  • Cushman Library in Bernardston has been working to maintain nearly all of its services online while the physical building is closed. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/30/2020 2:14:54 PM

BERNARDSTON — As libraries across the county work to maintain patron access to educational and entertainment resources online while their doors are closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cushman Library has been working to maintain nearly all of its services.

“I’m creating an online library without walls for people to access our services,” explained Library Director Karen Stinchfield. “The only thing we are not offering is access to physical items.”

Stinchfield explained the American Library Association recently recommended against circulation of any physical items, even through curbside pickup or delivery services, to avoid any possibility of spreading germs.

She commented that she purchased a laptop to keep up with work while trying to follow recent advisory orders from Gov. Charlie Baker that encourage librarians and employees to limit access to library buildings. She has been working from home — or from her car parked outside the library at 28 Church St. — to communicate with patrons.

“We have Wi-Fi at the library, so if people need to access it they can park out front of the building and work on their laptops,” she said.

The library always has digital subscription services, such as the Acorn TV streaming service. Stinchfield has associated barcodes, which are required to access such services, available for anyone who wants to try them.

Stinchfield said Cushman Library’s website is currently down, and she is working to create a new one. In the meantime, Cushman Library’s Facebook page is being updated regularly.

The library is keeping its online presence active by sharing everything from YouTube read-alongs, virtual field trips and children’s craft tutorials. For example, Stinchfield recently shared three new story readings Wednesday, and three crafting videos that teach children how to make paper animals and dinosaurs.

“Each day,” she said, “I’m posting things to keep people listening, reading, crafting and doing all sorts of activities.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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