Santa Monica public libraries and recreation services remain closed as they uphold social distancing regulations, but a push for independent, online learning and emergency community support has residents hoping the departments will open soon.
In July, the Santa Monica Unified School District announced all classes starting in the Fall will be conducted online over Zoom to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As students and parents grapple with the fact that learning will be conducted out of the home, the Santa Monica Public Library administration has sought to ease the burden by offering free curbside pickup and multiple online programs for children, teens and adults.
SMPL’s Youth and Family Services Coordinator Lenore St. John understands the community is experiencing unprecedented times, but she belives the library has diligently worked to overcome the burden and provide great service to their Santa Monica patrons. In fact, according to St. John, the Main branch library, which is located on Santa Monica Blvd. has already begun a contactless pickup service, and community members can virtually look through the library’s catalog at smpl.org or call the Santa Monica Public Library at 310-458-8600 to schedule an appointment to pick up books.
“We will be extending those services to (the) Montana and Pico (locations) in the near future,” St. John said as she explained how the library’s mission is to make reading fun and exciting this summer. “Even though it’s been a bit different than what it’s been in the past.”
SMPL has also extended its Grab and Go Programs to the Virginia Avenue Park location where they have partnered with The Free Summer Meal Program, which provides one pre-packaged bag of food for low-income Santa Monica residents and those with children enrolled at SMMUSD by appointment. The park also hosts a summer lunch program for children who are 18-years-old or younger. Children who show up for the meal program are also invited to pick up an activity kit, “and book packs aimed at inspiring active learning at home,” according to St. John. The kits are made accessible through a grant provided by The California State Library and families participating in the free summer lunch program at the local park are invited to pick up grab-and go-library kits on Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The library has begun utilizing progressive methods to reach patrons through their new online platforms. Patrons of the library can access current summer programs through smpl.org/onlinePrograms as well as through the Library’s social media accounts.
The Summer Reading Program is now available through a new virtual reading assistance platform called Beanstack. Patrons can create a profile through infidel.beanstack.org, where they are able to track their summer reading, participate in fun reading challenges, and earn points to be entered into a prize drawing where the winner receives a book bundle.
Although the future is uncertain, the SMPL and Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services Department expects to continue to provide these essential programs to community members in need.