2020: The year of the library

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Nelda Hill, assistant director for public services at the Knox County Public Library, says that libraries across the country have proven to be lifelines during the pandemic, and the Knox County Public Library is no exception.


“We decided early on to view this as an opportunity, and I’m happy to say we’ve launched and have plans to launch several new services.”

New services include:

  • Library-To-Go, which offers touchless book pickup
  • May We Suggest?, a service that allows users to share preferences via an online form or a phone call so that staff can compile a customized selection of books, movies and audio; and
  • Know It Knox, a monthly trivia contest that features expert hosts and a prize. (Learn more about each of these services at knoxlib.org.)

The staff at the Farragut Branch Library has also produced an array of adorable videos for kids in lieu of in-person story time. Check out Merry Shipley and Wendy Rogers as they sing, dance and build stuff out of Legos on the Knox County Public Library YouTube channel.

Marilyn Jones, manager of the Farragut Branch, is proud of her staff’s hard work.

“They do a great job. They miss the children,” she says.

Story Fun on the Run is another new offering that keeps kids learning and reading when they can’t go to the library for story time. Take-home kits, designed for preschool-age children, include two picture books and a craft that center around a theme.

Library staff is rolling with the punches now, but Covid struck a major blow last spring. The libraries were shut down in March and reopened in stages. The Farragut Branch was one of the first to reopen at the end of May.

Nelda Hill

There was a huge upsurge in digital media use at the library system in conjunction with the state’s Stay at Home orders in April, Hill said. Demand for digital media like ebooks, downloadable audio, streaming movies and music as well as research databases like the digitized Knoxville News Sentinel has remained high, and she expects it to continue to increase.

Because the library system is committed to following the five core actions, in-person library protocols have been adapted. Changes include limits on computer use, isolation of returned items for 72 hours, socially-distant seating, and, of course, plexiglass shields at service counters. On the positive side (for users like me), late fees have been suspended and more books can be checked out at once.

Another change has been a particular challenge to the staff.

“There are services that we just can’t offer now, like up close and personal one-on-one help. That’s hard because it’s the personal attention that so many of us enjoy,” Hill said.

Jones emphasized that while there are many ways to use the library without entering a building, the Farragut Branch is safe and welcomes visitors.

“Don’t hesitate to come in. We just want to see everyone again.”

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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