Stow library adapts to COVID restrictions

Krista S. Kano
Kent Weeklies
Gale Koritansky, director of Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, shares a new program called Perfect Match which offers patrons a collection of items curated for them by local librarians.

Stuck at home and not sure what to read next?

The Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library can help. 

Last week, the library launched a new program called Perfect Match that will offer patrons a collection of books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs, curated just for them by local librarians. 

"We're trying to help patrons find books they might not have read before, DVDs they haven't watched before," library director Gale Koritansky explained. 

To participate, patrons fill out a survey at http://www.smfpl.org/perfectmatch that asks them about their reading level, preferred media and genres and their favorite titles, and librarians will pull up 10 items for them based on their answers. 

"We're just trying to figure out how to get materials into their hands because people maybe can't come in to browse or perhaps are reluctant. So we pick it, and you love it," Koritansky said. 

The new program is just one of several changes and additions the library has made recently in order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which has been funded by a $25,000 grant through the CARES Act. 

Earlier this month, the library extended its wi-fi into the parking lot, making it available for free, 24/7 and without a login or password. That service was used heavily, particularly by local students, after the recent storm that caused power outages throughout the county. 

"I had people contact the library on Facebook saying that it was a real lifesaver," she said. 

"With a lot of our students from local schools going to school online, some of them needed internet access and we didn't have available seating. We extended the internet into the parking lot so at least they could sit on benches outside or in their cars."

The library also used the money to purchase personal protective equipment, social distancing guidelines, a hands-free door stop, new laptops and cameras to support virtual programming and soon-to-be-installed water bottle fillers. 

Additionally, the library has adapted its services to accommodate patrons who are uncomfortable entering the library. 

In addition to the checkout desk and drive-up window, patrons now have the option of using curbside service to pick up materials they have placed on hold, either online or over the phone. 

Patrons can call the number on one of two designated parking spot signs and a library staff member will bring items out to them. 

Returned items can be placed in the book drop and will be quarantined for four to seven days. No overdue fines will accrue during this time.

The library is still open to visitors, and patrons can reserve the computers for one-hour time slots. The library continues to offer passport and notary services, as well. 

Those interested in getting a library card must fill out paperwork in person, however, the library is working on issuing digital library cards that would give new patrons access to the digital collection of ebooks, databases and downloadable material. Koritansky said they hope to offer digital cards within the next month. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.