Library Outreach during COVID-19

Published 10:59 am Friday, May 1, 2020


News release

The mission of the Boyle County Public Library is to engage the community by promoting life-long literacy and learning, to connect people to information and technologies, and to contribute to local cultural life. One of the ways the library fulfills this mission is through the Outreach Department, which is staffed by Jana Oliver, Dana Benton, and Deb Brown. 

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Outreach provides programs and materials to members of the community who otherwise would not get the opportunity to take advantage of library services, including those limited by transportation and at-risk populations. 

The current COVID-19 shutdown eliminated in-person library services and temporarily changed the way outreach is done, especially since visits to daycares, senior living facilities, and homebound patrons are suspended. The closure, however, hasn’t stopped the outreach team from finding ways to serve. 

Since the shutdown, Oliver, Benton and Brown have been making phone calls to talk with their homebound patrons on a regular basis, and are sending cards and encouraging letters. Maintaining these connections is a vital part of outreach. 

“The patrons that we serve are very important to us,” says Oliver. “The conversations that we have and the time that we spend visiting with them is often just as important as the books that we select and bring to them.” 

Even though physical books can’t be delivered, outreach staff are still able to recommend eBooks to their patrons and walk them through the process of downloading materials to their devices.

Benton teamed up with numerous facilities to provide services to their residents. “I have always loved outreach and wondered if I would struggle finding creative ways to serve our community during this crisis,” says Benton. “I have found that serving our community looks different during this time, but involves the same interconnectedness of fostering relationships between the library and Boyle County and making them aware of what the library can offer.” 

As part of the modified outreach services, Benton leads a trivia game with residents of McDowell Place via conference call, and is leading a book contest for the residents versus the McDowell Place staff which will run until May 28. 

Benton is also working with the staff at Morning Pointe to provide virtual activities, such as trivia games, for their residents. She leads a virtual book discussion club centered on an author chosen by the group, and each Thursday morning she hosts a virtual storytime and chat with residents at Parkview.


Benton explains that many people she speaks with are “informed, entertained, and nourished emotionally and intellectually by the resources we have offered to them as outreach staff. Outreach has changed, but still involves lots of smiles and dedication to our community.”

Prior to the pandemic, Jana Oliver regularly drove the bookmobile to various children’s facilities. “I miss having storytime with the children in the daycares and schools that we serve,” says Oliver. “I will be glad when we are able to resume our special storytimes together.”  

In the meantime, the outreach staff continue to plan new and innovative ways to serve their patrons once in-person services resume. This year they hope to partner with local school district’s summer feeding programs to hand out books to children throughout Boyle County.

“We are making plans to reach our community with the summer reading program, and we have an excellent team at the library that is involved in finding a way to make that work for our community,” says Oliver. 

Even though the outreach services may currently be delivered in a different manner, the desire to serve and connect with patrons remains the same. Anyone with questions about Outreach Services should email Oliver directly at

As a reminder to all patrons, no overdue fines are being assessed for materials that are currently checked out, so there is no need to be concerned and there is no rush to return any items people have at home. As the library begins to reinstate some of its services, there will still be plenty of time to return the borrowed materials.

More information about the library’s outreach services, virtual events, and online resources is available at Anyone with questions or needing help accessing these resources may contact the library Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm via email at, or via Facebook Messenger at Patrons can also reach specific departments via the library’s website using the dropdown menu available on