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Our New Virtual Future

Updated: Jul 29


By J. Isaac Noel Benjamin, II

Courtesy Photo-Capital Area District Library Downtown Lansing


There were rumors that there would be a shut down. According to Scott Duimstra, Executive Director, Capital Area District Library. they thought there would be no way. A week later we were shut down. Covid-19 has changed the horizons for most of the known world. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” noted Duimstra. “We have to be able to adapt and re-invent ourselves.” The Capital Area District Library got the go ahead to reopen on June 22, 2020. With some notable changes they are still able to carry out their mission. “We have a contactless pickup,” Duimstra said. “Schedule an appointment and we can get the needed materials to you.” Duimstra also noted that the library had to re-think how they did business on a daily basis. “We don’t have the same staffing levels, but we do have staff on hand,” he said. “A lot of space in the library is taken up by the need to quarantine returned items to the library.” Duimstra noted that there’s a 96-hour quarantine requirement before returned items can be re-issued. There are a few library programs that have benefited from the Covid-19 shut down. For example, the story time program, aimed at babies to preschool children, has blossomed from having 200 or so participants to having 2,000. “People have to stay home, and as such are tuning in on their computers in record numbers,” said Duimstra. “We’ve had to cut back on the number of live performers at the library, but this has created a need for us to explore virtual performances,” said Duimstra. The shut down and reopening has also given birth to a new small business program. The library now offers a 4-week course on how to start your own e-commerce website. “We received a grant from Goggle that made everything possible,” said Duimstra. The library issued a sign-up lists with a limit of 30 business. The sign-up filled up right away. The sign-up lists is now a waiting lists. “The other nice part is that 2 business will be lucky and receive the service for free,” Duimstra said. Duimstra noted that the library was also mindful of the needs of students throughout the Lansing area. “There may be the need for a virtual learning environment in our near future,” stated Duimstra. “The library will be ready and able to assist.”

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