(This article was written by Laurel Bocka, social media communications specialist for the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.)
MANSFIELD -- The mission of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library is to connect the community to information, resources and each other.
But beyond just offering materials and resources, its aim is to be a community center, open to all, offering engaging and relevant programming, events and experiences for people of all ages.
MRCPL’s physical buildings and resources are a main part of what this mission statement encompasses, but they had to shift their focus once they closed their doors to the public in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through much planning and careful thought, MRCPL was able to find new ways to connect with the Richland County communities.
Despite closed buildings, library staff are working hard to continue to stay connected to their customers. Adena Siefert, Children’s Specialist at the Lexington Branch, was as excited as her regular customers when curbside services started in mid-May.
“I had one customer tell me that she and her teenage children literally gasped when they received the MRCPL email about the launch of our curbside pickup because they couldn’t wait to make a trip to the library!” Siefert says.
Typically during the summer months, Siefert can be found hosting programs, leading story times and helping to organize the children’s Summer Library Program at the Lexington Branch. Although the summer programming has been canceled for this year, Siefert and other children’s staff are working hard to come up with more ideas to stay connected with families and prevent learning loss.
“During the summer, kids typically don’t read or learn as much while they are not in school. This causes learning loss for kids and it is always at the forefront of our minds as librarians,” says Siefert.
With schools ending differently than expected this past school year, MRCPL noticed a need for age-specific recommended reading lists for the summer months. Library staff quickly curated reading lists that are now available on their website for children, teens and adults.
More virtual programs and activities provided by MRCPL will soon be announced on their website and their social media pages. “All in all,” Siefert says, “we’re here to continue offering excellent customer service to our community.”
MRCPL works hard to engage people of all ages. Social media has played a huge part in continuing conversations even before the buildings were closed.
The first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m., they host their Paging All Readers posts on their Facebook page where anyone can share what they are reading and get ideas from their other Facebook followers. On the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., AV staff members host a chat about music, movies and video games. Anyone is welcome to join in and share what they are watching, listening to, or playing! Simply look for these posts on their Facebook page and join in the conversation in the comments section.
Browsing the shelves, seeing all of the new materials and getting recommendations from library staff is part of the fun of visiting the library. MRCPL recognized that and came up with the Customized Selections service. With this service, customers fill out a simple questionnaire through the MRCPL website or they can call their local library location and answer the questions over the phone. Library staff will then handpick a stack of up to 25 books, CDs, DVDs, BluRays, and video games that will be placed on hold based on the customer’s personal interests!
Conversations and sharing information are also integral parts of library services. MRCPL just added a new feature to their website in order to continue facilitating informational conversations despite being closed. At the bottom right-hand corner of the website is a chat bubble. While a librarian is available, a message will appear saying “MRCPL is online.” After hours, the message will prompt the user to send an email that will be responded to when a librarian is back in the office.
MRCPL staff is excited to lend out materials again but they are also excited to continue building connections and serving Richland County in new ways. Stay connected with the Mansfield Richland County Public Library on their social media or on their website: www.mrcpl.org.