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Public libraries take on added importance during pandemic

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 3:10 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT
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MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Local libraries are getting some renewed interest as schools are set to reopen. Our Kiernan Brisson finds out what library services and resources families are using to prepare for a very different educational experience.

"We utilize the library pretty much every day. We love the library," said Willow Longo of Milton.

It's time for students to start thinking about getting back into school mode, and for most, that means finishing summer reading assignments and getting a jump on books for the fall.

Willow Longo and her daughter Alice have been visiting the Milton Public Library every week to pick up books and Alice is getting ready for a full year of homeschooling, which the Milton library has a posted curriculum for.

"If we didn't have the library, we would not have the resources that we need to be able to homeschool. We need the library," Willow said.

"Now because so many families will be doing hybrid or some kind of homeschooling, we are reviewing our entire collection of homeschooling materials and then we are upgrading that with newer editions or new titles," said Susan Larson of the Milton Public Library.

The Milton Public Library also has a full catalog of necessary books and summer reading lists for the Milton High School.

"We talked to them about the summer reading requirements for the students there and we put together their booklists onto our website," Larson said.

Larson says more community members have started using the library's resources during the pandemic and they are now serving more than 180 families every week with curbside pickup.

Alice, who will start first grade this year, looks forward to picking up her books every Monday.

"We order our books online and we get to pick them up," she said.

Other libraries have also been busy assisting students and families. The Charlotte Library is also hosting curbside book pickup and drop-offs and it's conducting public events as well as some classes out on the town green in front of the library.

"We've also had a couple of story walks up at the local park and wildlife refuge, and we're going to be bringing those, we hope, right to the town green," said Margaret Woodruff of the Charlotte Library.

Both libraries continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines with plenty of reminders, hand sanitizer and social distancing markers throughout their buildings, and both recently began allowing patrons inside the library in limited groups of no more than five people at a time.

The Charlotte and Milton public libraries say that they will continue to work closely with their local schools and provide them with all the resources they have at their disposal.

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