It is unlikely that Rita Christensen, the children’s librarian at the Orem Public Library, knew four years ago that a special online database project they were working on would be needed today, because of the current coronavirus outbreak.
Christensen and others at the library just recently completed an intensive project of building educational resources known as the Kid Zone to help children learn remotely when needed.
The database provides everything from science experiments to tutoring for grades K-12. There are also resources for pre-schoolers as well.
“A lot of hard work has gone into getting this resource together,” said Charlene Crozier, library director. “The library is committed to be responsive to the community. We have a fair number of resources. We are sensitive to those missing coming to the library.”
Christensen, Crozier and other librarians, through the Kid Zone link and other library links, have either connected with other resources worldwide or have created their own videos and databases to help with education needs for children.
These programs, according to Christensen, are based on the Utah State curriculum for schools.
Younger children can have daily story times through the Cabin Fever Storytime link or live stream other story time sources throughout the country.
Adult links are available for caregivers to guide them in home schooling through websites, podcasts and more.
Jamie Bartlett, reference librarian, said teens have not be left out on this project.
“Teens and adult databases are available besides what is from state schools information and primary resources,” Bartlett said. “Unique to Orem is tutor.com, a live online tutoring service.”
The library’s online resources also provide help 24/7 for AP prep classes, SAT and ACT helps and skill quizzes. Through drop boxes, users can also get help with math questions.
Christensen said tutoring sessions are recorded for future use as well.
The library also provides a language learning system to help students learn how to pronounce words through Mango.com, which offers help in 74 languages.
It is not all just work either, Christensen said. They have creative fun links, and a crafts and arts database available.
“All of these we think will be helpful as people change to home school,” Christensen said. “We also have a stellar media collection that offers good resources.”
While the library may be closed, they are still serving the community with much needed resources and connectivity, according to Crozier.
“We miss our library patrons,” Crozier said. “Those who visit the library bring great energy and enthusiasm with them, and we look forward to having people back in our building. We are grateful for everyone’s patience, understanding, and desire to serve their neighbors at this time.”
According to Mike Smith, Patron Services Division manager, while the libary’s book shelf aisles may be empty, there are a few personnel on hand to help the public via phone, text and email.
“We do have a limited staff working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Smith said. “Some are answering calls. It’s a historical time for all of us.”
Crozier said for now the library anticipates being closed until the end of March.
“We are closed to all public access through March 31. We are evaluating lots of options for library service during these changing times, but right now, our first priority is to keep our community safe by encouraging residents to stay home as much as possible,” Crozier said. “We know it is hard for people to be home without all of the library materials they may want, but we hope the sacrifice proves to be valuable in slowing the spread of this virus.”