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Library offers contactless curbside pickup, online storytime, Online Summer Reading Program
May 20, 2020

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The Lee County Library System recently expanded its contactless curbside pickup to every branch, has continued its online Wednesday storytime and is gearing up for its online Summer Reading Program next month.

Youth Services Programming Coordinator Amy Jane McWilliam said things are going really well with curbside pickup, which has been extended to all the branches in the Lee County Library System.

"The hours vary depending on which branch. As we start phasing in services that will change," she said.

At the East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, N. in Lehigh Acres, the Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace and Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd., N in Cape Coral, the curbside hold pickup is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Curbside pickup gives patrons an opportunity to place a hold online, or over the phone with the telephone reference department. The telephone reference department is staffed Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individuals can call (239) 479-4636.

Once the materials are ready, the patron will be notified by the library. When the patron arrives at the branch they are asked to call the number the library staff gives them while providing their library card number.

A staff member will then wheel out a library cart with their material, leave it at the curb and walk away.

"Then the person can get out of their car and get their items," McWilliam said of the curb, contactless pickup. "I know as a parent, our kids are getting a lot of screen time. When we started curbside pickup the parents rejoiced."

She explained that the curbside pickup is one step of starting the phase-in process of services.

The library also is continuing storytime every Wednesday at 10 a.m., online, through the Lee County Library System YouTube channel. McWilliam said the storytime allows children to see a familiar face, as the children librarians are taking turns doing a recorded storytime featured on YouTube.

"All of our staff went through training this past year for storytime and learned so much about early literacy. We were excited to kick start our Super Charged Storytime campaign when all of this happened," McWilliam said of closures due to COVID-19.

She said although a child being read to in person is going to have more of an impact than watching a recording, the online storytime is also geared towards caretakers.

"We are modeling the types of things that parents can do to help the child develop the skills they need to be reading for kindergarten," McWilliam said.

With school coming to an end, the Lee County Library System is kicking off its "Imagine Your Story" Summer Reading Program for all ages next month. The reading program, which will be solely online, will be held from June 1, through Aug. 1.

The library system is using the program, Readsquared, which all ages can use, including adults.

"Last year we had an online component for folks to log their reading, a free platform that we were using. Some people participated, but it didn't get the traction," McWilliam said, adding that they used the free program to engage interest from the community regarding the online program.

With Readsquared, they felt it was the best way for them to make the summer reading program as normal as possible, while intertwining the things that they know families really enjoy.

McWilliam said the system will allow participants to log in their reading, as well as complete challenges and missions to earn a chance to win prizes. She said there are activities offline and screen free, and the reading can also be done offline and screen free.

"The activities are the things that we would do inside our branches," McWilliam said.

The exciting grand prizes include a Little Tikes playhouse for babies through age 5, Nintendo Switch for elementary school aged children, VR headset for teens and a Kindle Fire HD for adults. There are also prizes for branch winners ranging from literacy activity baskets, science kits for kids and a mini robot for teens, as well as Nelson DeMille signed books for adults.

McWilliam said although the Summer Reading Program is online, the library system also created a summer reading packet to hand out to the kids.

"An online platform might not be acceptable for everyone," she said.

She said with their great partnerships with the community and the Lee County School District, the Summer Reading Program can reach more students.

With that said, an activity booklet was created with reading challenges, as well as activities such as connect the dots, word searches and creating ones own character, by the library system. McWilliam said they will distribute those booklets on May 26 at every Grab & Go meal site of the School District of Lee County.

"We worked with the Nutrition Services to get this done," McWilliam said, adding that it means that children who may be part of the most vulnerable population, as well as those who want to be completely free of screen time, still will have material to participate in the Summer Reading Program.

Although the activity booklet targets children from 6 to 11 years old, anyone can do the activities.

"The reading challenge can be adaptive to any age," McWilliam said.

In addition, they are going to work with the summer camps that are open to get the activity books distributed to all camp locations.

For more information about the library system, visit www.leelibrary.net, or its Facebook and Instagram pages, as good information related to library services is shared on social media. Updates regarding the Summer Reading Program will also be updated at www.leelibrary.net/summer.

As far as when the library will provide more services, it all depends on the recommendations from the Lee County Board of County Commissioners. McWilliam said she personally listens to the board meetings every Tuesday.

"We rely on the Board of County Commissioners to let us know when we are phasing in more services based on state and CDC guidelines," she said.

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