Henrico County Public Library- More Than Books

by Patty Conway, Community Relations Coordinator, Henrico County Public Library

While our buildings may be closed, Henrico County Public Library (HCPL) is fortunate to have an engaged community, versatile and adaptable staff, and the support of Henrico County. This has helped us to quickly move to promote existing online services and innovate new ways to connect with county residents online and over the phone. Here’s a look at what the libraries are up to during this closure.

Digital Collections

HCPL’s extensive online library of over 100,000 titles is always open.  Cardholders can borrow materials, including ebooks, audiobooks, movies, magazines and music, online from the library through OverDriveHoopla, and RB Digital. The library also offers newspapers through our  Online Research page. We recently added a post on our blog for people to learn how to get started using these services. 

Online Programming and Virtual Storytimes

Our librarians are working hard to develop engaging online learning experiences for all ages. We encourage you to follow our blogFacebookTwitter, and Instagram and sign up for our monthly newsletter to get educational content from our staff. This includes online book discussions, reading recommendations, an upcoming reading challenge, and our popular Virtual Storytimes. Tune into Facebook Live for Virtual Storytimes on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30 am and Tuesdays at 6:30 pm.  Check our website and social media for updates about Title Talk, an open group to discuss what you’ve been reading and get recommendations from librarians, on Thursdays at 6pm for adults, and Tuesdays at 2pm for teens.

Digital Library Cards

New digital-only cards are available while libraries are closed due to COVID-19.  If you don’t yet have a library card, you can use the online registration form on our website to register for a digital card, which will provide access to OverDrive ebooks and audiobooks, as well as online research and learning tools like Consumer Reports, Tutor.com, and Rosetta Stone for language learning. If you think you might already have an HCPL library card, please check with us first using Ask A Librarian, available by clicking the green tab on the right hand side of any page on our website.

Educational Resources

We know that it can be challenging to find supplemental, structured learning activities for young people during this time.  The library can help!  Students of all ages can receive free online tutoring and homework help with Tutor.com, and additional study resources, like test prep, are available through Learning Express Library, free with their library card. If you have a question for a librarian or need assistance with a project, you can use our online AskHCPL service by clicking the green tab on the right hand side of any page of our website. Visit our Online Research page for other resources organized by subject – our favorites include Rosetta Stone for language learning, and Universal Class, which offers tutorials that can help you with academic subjects, or learning a new skill or craft!

Connect with Staff and Get Book Recommendations

HCPL librarians are available to assist you with your information and learning needs. Call any library during our normal business hours to speak to customer service staff, or connect with staff online using our AskHCPL service, available by clicking the green tab on the right hand side of any page of our website. Visit our locations page for phone numbers and hours. And our My Next Read service can help you get book recommendations via email directly from library staff. 

Call Center Staffing

Library staff have been providing direct assistance to those impacted by COVID-19 by working four call centers; the Henrico Employee and Community call centers, the Senior Outreach Call Center and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Call Center at Fairfield Library.  The Henrico Community Call Center (501-5655) answers calls of all kinds from the community and from schools.  Within the same call center is an employee information line (501-5623). These call center staff also answer community and employees’ texts (804) 376-9780.  Each line is open from 7am-7pm Monday through Sunday.

The Senior Outreach Call Center, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 501-5454, connects older residents and family members to community support and resources as part of the EngAGE initiative.  Outreach Call Center staff assist field incoming calls and make regular calls to Senior residents who are seeking reassurance and social connection, or need help getting food or medication.  Staff provide company and assurance to these residents, and have even connected some to church groups providing food or pharmacies that deliver prescription medication.  And for those with questions about their health or COVID-19, another hotline managed by the VDH/Henrico and Richmond Health Districts has also employed library staff. That line – 205-3501 – is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Our staff have quickly adapted to provide innovative new services, promote our existing online services, and connect online with our community.  We plan to resume full or partial library services as soon as we are able, and we can’t wait to see you at the library in the future.  For now, we hope you’ll join us online or give us a call.  Henrico County Public Library is still here for you, and committed to supporting your learning, reading, and curiosity during this difficult time.