By Linda H. Feaster
Recently, COVID-19 has caused major changes in our lives. We’re staying home, practicing social distancing, and postponing family gatherings. Many people are working from home. Schools are closed, leaving parents and grandparents with the responsibility of filling their children’s days with fun and educational activities. Many of the places we routinely go, like shops and restaurants, have temporarily closed their doors. These new challenges are inspiring everyone to find new ways of doing the things we’re accustomed to simply going out and doing. We’re making greater use of the internet for online shopping, takeout, education, entertainment — and for library services.
The Ocean County Library has long been a library-without-walls. Their website theoceancountylibrary.org has a sophisticated wealth of resources available to their customers of all ages. Take a few minutes — or an hour or two — to tour the OCL website. Here are some of the amazing digital resources that you will find there.
While libraries specialize in age groups — youth, young adult, and adult services — many of the digital resources provide one-stop shopping for all ages, with the convenience of sorting the information into age-appropriate versions. For instance, Access Video on Demand provides informative videos on thousands of topics from around the globe for teens and adults, while Access Video Just for Kids provides streaming videos for children from preschool to grade five. OverDrive, a digital library, is available through the downloadable Libby app, and provides thousands of fiction and nonfiction books for school assignments and leisure reading for children, teens, and adults.
Hoopla provides on-demand e-books, audio books, and streaming music, movies, and videos. Thousands of films are available from the streaming library at Kanopy, including a wealth of videos from The Great Courses catalog. And for crafters and makers, Creativebug provides online videos of arts and crafts workshops and techniques for all ages.
Databases, like EBSCOhost, Proquest, America’s News Magazines, and more provide instant access to not just articles, but whole issues of thousands of magazines and newspapers, including Consumer Reports, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker for children, teens, and adults.
Children and teens home from school can keep the learning going by checking out Just for Kids and Teen Zone. There they will find age-appropriate e-books, audiobooks, and magazines, as well as homeschooling resources, games and videos that are as entertaining as they are educational. TumbleBook Library is a collection of animated talking books from the website. There’s even homework help and tutoring from Brainfuse HelpNow. Facts on File features modules on American and world history, geography, culture, and science, with primary sources, such as the Declaration of Independence, diary entries, the Executive Summary of the 9/11 Commission Report, and more, as well as maps and charts, diagrams, experiments and timelines. Facts on File also includes curriculum resources and materials for teachers and parents.
LearningExpress Library is a one-stop database for math, science, language arts, and social studies. There are learning centers for everyone: elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, as well as an adult core skills section that includes how to become a U.S. citizen in both English and Spanish. Video courses for computer skills let you learn computer and internet basics, Microsoft, and Adobe programs and more at your own pace. And for high school and college students, LearningExpress Library features a wide variety of college and graduate school admission test preparation and practice tests.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn about finance, study history or world religions, get help learning a computer program or just brush up on your grammar, now is the time to take advantage of your new-found free time by creating a personal account with Universal Class. From business to health and medicine, Do It Yourself to personal development, real estate to social work, and many more categories, there are more than 500 non-college credit, continuing education courses to choose from, all taught by real instructors.
There are many more digital resources available online for FREE from the Ocean County Library. All you need is an internet connection and an Ocean County Library card. How does one obtain a card while the library system is temporarily closed? Free, temporary — 60-day — digital library cards are being issued online. For details and an online application, go to theoceancountylibrary.org, and click the Digital Library Resources box at the upper left part of the page.
Once you have your card, or if you already are a customer of the Ocean County Library, you have access to the Digital Concierge Service where you can get help choosing a book, and answers to other questions.
In challenging times and all the time, the Ocean County Library is always here for you. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more essential. Visit us online. Explore the website and be inspired. Play and learn with your children. Learn a new hobby or a new language. Watch a film, or read a book that’s outside your comfort zone. Make this challenging time one of opportunity.