Over the last several months, like many organizations forced to suddenly shut down and limit in-person interactions, Cecil County Public Library services have evolved to meet the needs of families, students, teachers, business owners and adults.

CCPL expanded digital access to online resources for research, downloading, and streaming by launching an online card within a week of the closure. To date, over 400 online cards have been issued and usage of digital items has been record-breaking. WiFi signal strength was expanded into library parking lots and usage has been strong across the county.

Trying to work and help children learn from home can be difficult and often exhausting. Cecil County Public Library’s databases, instantly downloadable books and learning tools were shared to complement the learning plans for students and teachers.

Within a few weeks, the library began offering online classes and programs for all ages, such as drawing tutorials and STEM programs for teens, the Children’s Book Festival, live animal events and online StoryTimes with CCPL children’s librarians. With the successful roll-out of these programs, it was time for the next step in expanding library services for Cecil County.

In partnership with the Cecil County Parks and Recreation, Cecil County Public Library introduced the first StoryTrail at Calvert Regional Park recently. A story is displayed among 18 permanent panels spaced along a half-mile stroll in the park. Families can read the story together, and enjoy fun learning activities. A second StoryTrail is planned for Brantwood Park and the stories will be changed seasonally.

An annual tradition for Cecil County Public School sixth grader is to kick-off the summer reading season by selecting books from the Bookmobile. Students choose four books to keep and read, as research has shown the students who select their own book topics and genres are more likely to read them.

While the bookmobile was not in service for most of the spring, working together with the schools, a creative solution was developed to connect these students with books during locker clean out days or yearbook pick up days. While not a traditional visit of stepping onto the Bookmobile, students were delighted to have the opportunity to select books from carts strategically placed outside. With the success of this model, the Bookmobile has visited area summer camps and neighborhoods to deliver books to children across the county.

Children who do not read and engage in educational activities are more likely to fall behind their peers when school begins. “To prevent the impact of summer learning loss, we aim to champion reading and inspire curiosity by providing access to educational and entertaining materials,” stated Morgan Miller, CCPL Director. “With so many unknowns, it is more important than ever for the community to know they can count on us to provide books, reading recommendations, online programs, digital resources and answers to questions.”

Since early June the library has offered contactless pickup and printing at four locations, Chesapeake City, Elkton, Perryville and Rising Sun, with active participation and many items being placed on hold and picked up. As of Monday, August 10, contactless pickup and printing expanded to Cecilton.

Knowing many active patrons miss being in the library to browse the collection, carts have been set up outside and in full view of pickup windows for immediate borrowing, including bundles of children’s books on a variety of different topics.

The library’s business librarians have also offered classes and one-on-one telephone and virtual meeting assistance by appointment. The business information center continues to coordinate with other county business and non-profit partners.

“As we look toward the fall and in conjunction with the schools reopening plans, we know that now more than ever it is important to focus on and support families, students, parents and teachers in the online learning environment,” stated Morgan Miller, Director of CCPL. “We’ve shifted some priorities toward even more robust learning tools such as BrainFuse, coming this September, which offers live, online tutoring, career and veteran services that we feel will benefit students and families who are learning and working from home.”

Look for CCPL’s own phased reopening plan on their website at www.cecil.ebranch.info

As a final note, Ms. Miller stated, “Many in the community have been watching construction of the new North East Branch Library. We are pleased to share that the building is very much on track and on schedule to open to the public in the spring of 2021. We look forward to celebrating with everyone.”

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