The Contra Costa County Library System has been working to provide relief to residents negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and while libraries have been closed, staff have still dedicated resources toward supporting the community.
In addition to offering increased access to eBooks and video story time, county libraries have provided space, staff and technology to support the local response to COVID-19, services that aim to both alleviate hardships felt by residents and support the county's efforts to combat the virus.
"We want to support the county’s emergency response efforts in any way we can," Contra Costa County Librarian Melinda Cervantes said. "We have buildings, technology, and people, who can provide critical support in the fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
Starting off with the alleviation of hardships, library branches still offer WiFi that can be accessed in library parking lots, a move that staff say will help keep residents informed and provide much needed support for students attending homeschool. Library officials did note, however, that while WiFi is on at all branches, the distance from the parking lot to the library buildings varies by location and WiFi signal strength may be impacted.
On the front to combat the spread of the pandemic, library staff members have been deployed as disaster service workers in a variety of ways, from collecting donations of personal protective equipment and childcare supplies, to training to perform much needed contact tracing of sick patients.
Using its technological resources to help supply critically needed masks to first responders and other essential workers, library staff have been using three 3D printers to mass produce "Montana Masks" and mask clips.
The "Montana Mask" has the ability to extend a single surgical mask into six uses and is itself reusable, according to library staff who added that the clips are used to connect elastic to surgical masks. So far, the library has printed 28 masks and 1,600 clips.
In the Pinole Library lobby and meeting room, a temporary state-run testing site has been established, where county residents can receive a COVID-19 test by appointment only. Library staff did note however that the Pinole Library testing site is available by walk-up only.
Library staff have also been working to expand their eBook collections and create social distancing-conscience events online. Residents can still sign up for a library card and get connected to books and resources online at ccclib.org.
For questions about library services and programming or account information residents can call or text questions to 290-7627, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.