Staff Stories: Digital Delivery During a Pandemic

Originally shared as part of Halifax Public Libraries' 2020-21 Annual Report

Providing and increasing access to technology devices, online resources, and WiFi throughout the pandemic and Library closures ensured our community could access rapidly-changing health information, stay connected to loved ones, and seek free entertainment.

The same week Halifax Public Libraries closed its branches (March 16, 2021), staff made technology deliveries to shelters and housing partners. Sheena Jamieson, Community Navigator, delivered Chromebooks, iPads and MiFi devices to multiple locations in the city.

Within one week of closing, the Library also launched digital card registration. This project in-the-works was bumped up the roster to help keep community entertained at home. This new process allowed community members to register for a library card without visiting a branch, granting them immediate access to our E-Library and digital collections. We saw more than 100 people register for their digital library card on launch day, and throughout 2020-21, more than 9,000 were registered.

Throughout Spring 2020, the Library’s digital collection received a big boost: new audiobooks and e-books were purchased to meet ever-increasing demand, and we added a variety of new and updated online resources to our E-Library collection. Kanopy, a streaming service featuring acclaimed documentaries and films, was met with excitement from our community. We also made PressReader (International News) and Ancestry Library Edition, online resources typically only available when visiting a Library branch, available from home throughout the closure. PublicLibraryVideo Online, RomanceBookCloud, and TumbleBooks Math also joined our collection throughout the original closure. Digital reading had its moment in 2020 in more ways than one—Halifax Public Libraries’ OverDrive collection saw over 1 million digital checkouts in the 2020 year!

WiFi also played a role in staying connected during closures and beyond. At many branches, we boosted our WiFi signals to reach parking lots and community greenspaces. This service invited community members to linger outside our branches, rest and enjoy free WiFi.

“Thank you for extending the WiFi into the parking lot. My daughter and her boyfriend drive over to stream the hockey games. They love it and it gives them a night out together."

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