Sara Groves reads “Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms” for her Facebook live audience at Sherwood Forest in Auburn on Thursday. The Lewiston Public Library children’s librarian reads from a different location every Thursday at 11 a.m. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Monday featured a downloadable kit to make a dinosaur. An online owl drawing class and a story hour from Camp Marlene was offered last week. Science and writing workshops are being offered as well as additional stories read by library volunteers. French Fry, a children’s favorite, a stuffed  animal river otter, who serves as the Turner library’s mascot and children’s ambassador, was used during a children’s book giveaway in the days before the library was ordered closed.

Eileen Heidrich of Turner volunteers to read children’s books via YouTube for the Turner Public Library. Heidrich will read “Creepy Carrots” for this week’s book. “This is something I can do to help,” said Heidrich. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

While the building is locked due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Turner Public Library has not decreased the number of activities and programming for its residents. More and more people are accessing its services online and checking out e-books.

Library director Ellen Bradley said the virtual programming and digital collection in Turner saw a 25% increase during the first week of April.

Libraries throughout Maine and the rest of the country are increasing their access to digital resources and virtual programming, according to a survey conducted by the Public Library Association.

“We are shifting popular programs online, sharing hyperlocal information and resources, and continuing to connect with our community by chat, text, phone and email,” association President Ramiro Salazar said in a statement.

Area libraries are seeing a similar trend.

“We are definitely seeing a bit of an uptick in our e-books and online systems,” Lewiston librarian Marcela Peres said.

Auburn librarian Mamie Anthoine Ney said she has seen a large increase in traffic on the libraries’ Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Turner has aggressively adapted its vast in-library programming to nearly daily digital offerings.

Online story times have proved popular, Bradley said. Library staff and volunteers  from the community all chip in to read children’s books to the youngsters. Camp Marlene, a video produced by local resident Eileen Heidrich since March, has proven to be especially popular with youngsters through her storytelling and use of stuffed animals during her readings.

“She sends us videos every week,” Bradley said. “They’re very cute, and she’s a very happy person. They are really, really nice people and a lot of fun.”

Free digital resources available include about 30 virtual field trips around the world, plus a look at Mars, and virtual tours of museums, including a recent post for the Bates College Museum of Art. Other free resources include dozens of virtual college tours and a list of more than 70 items to do with children while staying home.

The Turner library, similar to those in Lewiston and Auburn, coordinates its e-book and audio book rentals through the Maine State Library and its Cloud Library services. The Maine State Library has spent $50,000 to increase its e-book capacity, including adding more copies of popular titles that often have a long wait list, Bradley said.

Sara Groves shows a seedling she found in her front yard to her Facebook live audience at Sherwood Forest in Auburn on Thursday. The Lewiston Public Library children’s librarian used the “show and tell” to demonstrate patience, the lesson she hoped children learned from the book she reads to them, “Patience, Miyuki.” Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Lewiston Public Library is releasing a newsletter every Monday to keep patrons informed about its digital offerings. On Tuesday, for example, the library hosted a live book chat on Facebook and held a preschool sing-a-long.

Other weekly programs include online story time, library pen pals, read to a pet, teen talk and a writing group. Programs are also available to help users learn a foreign language. Poetry readings are also offered.

Despite the temporary closure, library cards can still be renewed online, Peres said.

As with many libraries, Lewiston offers lots of resources for research, including genealogy, tests and tutorials.

“We are still replying to all messages,” Peres said. “We’re still around. Our staff misses interacting with the community.”

In Auburn, Ney was forced to furlough 80% of her staff, preventing the library from adding new programming such as an online children’s story hour.

“We’re not offering anything like that yet,” Ney said.

Despite that, the library still offers substantial digital resources for children and adults, Ney said.

Through Kanopy, the library offers on-demand free film streaming  access.

One site Ney recommended was the hobbies and crafts reference link on the Digital Maine Library where visitors to its website can receive how-to instructions and lessons on numerous hobbies.

“We’re anxious to get back to work,” Ney said. “We’re trying to stay current of the decisions the city is doing.”

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