A global pandemic may have changed the way Beloit Public Library delivers service, but it has not changed its purpose or its value. If anything, it has enforced it.
Patron Taylor S. says it best: “During this unprecedented time … The Beloit Public Library has literally been a Godsend for us.” For this wife to a husband considered high risk and mother to two very young children, Taylor values having safe activities and programs for her family to break up the monotony and combat depression that can come from being isolated while trying to stay safe at home.
Exactly what has Beloit Public Library done for the community?
• Despite a global pandemic, construction was approved, conducted, and completed on a 7,500-square-foot build-out of new spaces in the library that will benefit the community. Those spaces include a children’s program room, caretaker room, large study room, two ESL classrooms, two classrooms for Blackhawk Technical College, certified GED testing center, co-op office spaces, and more.
• As area students face distance and virtual learning, Beloit Public Library stepped forward as a Distance Learning Center to support local families in this new way of learning. In addition, along with other Arrowhead Library System libraries, BPL purchased a subscription for new resource, Brainfuse HelpNow, to provide free live tutoring for library card holders and other learning tools for students and families.
• Just prior to Safer at Home in Wisconsin, BPL added outdoor access points that expand free Wi-Fi reach throughout the parking lot and make internet access available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those needing a connection to apply for jobs, study, download books, and more.
• With citizens facing unprecedented hardships due to the economic downturn, BPL made it a priority to open its doors and provide access to public computers, copiers, and fax machine for what would be assumed a great need for important tasks as submitting weekly unemployment benefit reports, applying for jobs, completing the census, and writing resumes. To continue to offer hands-on assistance in the computer lab, BPL went a step further by creating a roving cart by which staff can, upon request, remote into public computers to offer assistance without the need to get within 6’.
• In addition, Resume Review Service was unveiled to provide constructive feedback for those writing resumes and looking to better themselves with new professional opportunities.
• During the closure of BPL, staff completed a total of 2,200 hours of training so that when doors reopened, staff were equipped with the tools and know-how to provide even better service than before.
• Beloit Public Library continues to provide activities that engage residents of all ages. While registration is now required and attendance is limited, in-person programming continues, along with virtual and hybrid programming, as well as reading challenges for children and adults. The Downtown Beloit Story Stroll – a program partnered with Downtown Beloit Association – gained attention from American Library Association.
• BPL released a refreshed book-club-in-a-bag program, Book Club Bags, featuring 29 new titles for adults to engage with their peers more easily and without the extra work or expense.
• When the community is being asked to keep their distance and many of the usual outlets for entertainment are shuttered, the reading, listening, and viewing materials at BPL become ever more important. Pair that with residents having less expendable income due to job loss, that free entertainment is invaluable. Entertainment also supports good mental health. Digital collections were boosted in 2020, as were online resources including a new digital subscription to the New York Times.
From curbside pickup of materials to drive-in movies, outdoor children’s performers to take-and-make kits, from all-hours online account access to staff’s willingness to bend over backwards to accommodate unique needs of its patrons, from partnering with community educators and service providers to providing traditional services, BPL has filled the community’s needs again and again.
It is in times like a global pandemic when we truly learn which organizations have the best interests of the community at heart, and, without any doubt, Beloit Public Library has put the needs of the Greater Beloit community first. Imagine what else BPL can accomplish for the community with your donation.
To make these and other wonderful programs and initiatives happen, it takes your support. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to Beloit Public Library Foundation so BPL can continue to enhance our community through Education, Employment, Engagement, and Entertainment for years to come.
Thank you, Ken Forbeck, President
Thank you for your continued support in all that we do at Beloit Public Library. Let’s continue to move forward and lead the way for other libraries!
Thank you, Nick Dimassis, Library Director