Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) Respond to COVID-19 Outbreak Libraries continue to engage through a variety of digital platforms

Middletown, NY, (April 6, 2020) – Libraries play a crucial role as “second responders” in times of natural or humanmade disasters, like hurricanes, floods, and fires. They adapt quickly to offering services to the public, no matter what the situation. While all 47 libraries in the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) have closed their buildings in response to COVID-19, they have immediately broadened their digital channels as a new way of reaching their communities.

RCLS libraries throughout Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, and Southern Ulster Counties are taking action by expanding their digital collection that includes e-books, downloadable audiobooks, e-magazines, online courses, language-learning software, and more. Also, since the closures, these libraries are offering a variety of online programs – both recorded and live –through multiple digital platforms.

“Libraries have always been an integral part of communities,” says Grace Riario, Executive Director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System. “Even though our doors are closed, we haven’t “gone away.” We’re still here ready to serve and assist our public in any way possible.”

Working remotely from home during social distancing, all library staff are proactive and creative in offering programs to their community. Utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, library staff continue to engage by delivering storytimes and craft hours to how-to videos showing how to download an e-book on platforms like Kanopy, Hoopla, and Overdrive. Many libraries are reaching out to their community members to check in on them and see if they need assistance connecting to resources, such as food delivery and mental health services.

“We are urging anyone who needs assistance to contact their local library,” Riario says. “Whether it’s finding activities for families with young children or senior citizens who are unsure how to navigate this new world, our library staff can help provide the right resources that they need during this time of social distancing.”

RCLS libraries are dedicated to helping their communities stay connected – even virtually – with a variety of online services, such as live discussions, tutoring sessions, streaming movies, books clubs, and visual storytime and links to fun activities, fingerplays, and songs for children. People can still access databases for test prep, homework help, Rosetta Stone, and more.

Communities are encouraged to regularly check the web sites of their local library for links to all their online content and the latest news on their service disruptions.

The Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) is a non-profit, cooperative public library system serving 47 chartered public libraries in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, and Southern Ulster Counties, New York encompassing a total of 2,459 square miles with a population of 803,351 (2010 US Census). For more information, please visit RCLS’s website at http://rcls.org/

RCLS also offers free digital resources that community members can access during the COVID-19 outbreak. The information encourages washing hands frequently, know how it spreads, avoid close contact, stay home if you’re sick, covering coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask if you’re sick, and clean and disinfect.

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