Library providing access to variety of online tools, resources
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Public Library (SLPL) is connecting Sioux Lookout residents, and library card holders, to online resources that provide access to a wide variety of readable and engaging content.
With a SLPL library card number, community members can access resources on free apps, such as eBooks, audio books, and magazines, which usually require a paid subscription.
“We have a series of apps that we’re trying to get people to download and use from home. You need a library card to make them work. These apps are all free; you just have to download them from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Once you have them on your phone, then it’ll ask you for your library card number so you can activate it… I’ve been encouraging people to get in touch with me if they don’t have a card or if they’re getting problems with their card number. People can reach out to the library to get a library card if they’ve never had one or if they’ve had one in the past we can look it up and give them a new number if we need to,” said Mike Laverty, CEO and Chief Librarian of the Sioux Lookout Public Library.
Laverty said there are three specific apps that he’s focusing on, and promoting, right now that allow users to access large digital libraries of reading content as well as language learning material.
“Libby specializes in audio books and eBook content and people can put up to ten things on their device at a time, so up to ten audio books or eBooks. You just search for what you want, download it directly to your phone, and once it’s on the hard drive on your device you can listen to it without internet. You don’t need a connection to play it, so that’s a nice thing. After the two weeks is done it just vanishes from your phone, so it’s there for two weeks. There’s no late fees, so you just download it, use it, and it’s on to the next thing,” he said.
“The other app we’re promoting is RBdigital, so RBdigital is an online platform for magazines and comic books. You have access to about 3500 digital magazine subscriptions, which would usually run you about 25 to 30 bucks a year. It has pretty much any magazine you can think of, and you can read it on a PC, on a phone, on an e-reader, or whatever the case may be. It has the same benefit as Libby that you can download all the content to your device and then look at it later. It has access to about 1000 comic book series’ and graphic novels, so you can pull that up and that looks especially nice on a nice iPad. If you have a nice tablet it’s pretty amazing to flip through the comic books and graphic novels with that big display. The magazines are great too because you get everything. You can alternate between pinching and dragging a real magazine page, like the way it would appear in print, or you can toggle between that and a text view where you’re simply reading it like you would on a website. Strictly getting text, so it’s on your phone, it’s easy to read, and you’re not pinching and dragging.
“I’m basically focusing on three apps. The other one is called Mango Languages… So Mango is one of the top-rated languages apps in the world, and again it would cost you quite a bit of money to pay for an annual subscription, but with your library card you set up a free account. You authenticate it with your library card and you’re good to go,” he explained.
On April 2 the SLPL made a post on their Facebook page, @SiouxLookoutPublicLibrary, that linked to a video on their YouTube channel, showing library card holders how to download audiobooks and eBooks using the Libby app. Laverty said he plans on using their Facebook page and YouTube channel to provide more content, including how-to videos, to help people access online resources and SLPL programming.
“I’m going to be pushing out more content on our YouTube channel too, so that’s www.youtube.com/slpubliclibrary. We’re starting to push out more how-to videos, so we have one on how to use the Libby app. I’m hoping to put up one on RBdigital… As the weeks go along I’m hoping to get into the schedule of putting out one video per week where I’m just highlighting an online resource and then doing an online demonstration for people so they can follow along with me, get some tips, and things like that,” he said.
“Another thing I’m hoping to do is do some kind of online library program like a story time for kids where I send out a Zoom invitation… I’m thinking about doing that and even some online courses at the library where I can demonstrate how to do something. I’m thinking about people living at home, being isolated, and trying to stay busy.
“There’s lots of possibilities right now for the library. We have the technical capacity to stream, push out a high-quality signal, and communicate with a lot of people at the same time, so that’s been one of my priorities since we closed… I’m hoping, in the next couple of weeks and month ahead, I can start pushing out a ton of content,” he continued.
For residents that took out SLPL material before their closure on March 13, the SLPL confirmed that residents can keep the material, without any late fees, until the library is officially re-opened. Once there is an official re-opening those with SLPL materials will have three weeks to make returns.
“I thought the easiest way to do it was to take everything that was checked out on the day that we closed, which was March 13, and say anything brought back after that date will not incur any kind of late fee. People can keep their books, DVD’s, and magazines at home for as long as the library is closed for, so I thought that simplified things. If you have something at home you can keep it. If you have to return it, for whatever reason, you can return things in the book drop, but that’s pretty much slowed down completely. It looks like people are just holding on to their stuff for now,” said Laverty.
“When the library re-opens, what we’ll do is take our re-open date and then everything checked out will then be given a due date of three weeks after that date. So we’ll re-open at one point, and then when that happens people will have that typical three week window to bring back the material. We’ll be pretty generous with late fees and things like that,” he concluded.
To stay up to date on SLPL content, Laverty recommends checking out their Facebook page or going to their website slpl.on.ca.