The New York Public Library has reached out to all their members who have provided an email address with information about their closure due to the COVID 19 outbreak. About a week ago, NYPL announced complete closure of all their branches. They later reminded everyone that their policy regarding books and physical materials that need to be returned is to keep them at home.
You will not accrue any late fees for the materials, and all drop boxes are locked and inaccessible. You will also not inadvertently purchase through any books held for longer than 30 days overdue, as this policy has been suspended. That is good news, since late fees can add up rather quickly. Any books that you ordered through the hold pickup system on their website will be held until the branches reopen. Due to a potential backlog, new library holds of physical materials are not available.
In addition to this simple policy change, there has been some other good news at the library. They are now (or very soon) offering several resources to help people in New York who are stuck at home. They have instituted several brand-new programs, which everyone can and should take advantage of. If you don’t have a library card, you can still obtain one even while the library is closed. The link to go to can be found here https://www.nypl.org/books-music-movies/ebookcentral/simplye and you simply download the app and apply for a library card if you don’t already have one.
The following are some of the resources that New Yorkers will find very helpful.
Access To Private Tutors For All New York City School Children In Grades K-12
According to the statement by the Tony Marx, president of the Library, “In the coming days, we will be announcing a partnership with an online tutoring service, essentially giving all PreK–12 students in NYC access to private tutors via chat ‘after school.’ So, just as we do every day in our branches, we will support a culture of learning outside of the classroom by offering families homework help and support. The chat service will be available from 2 PM to 11 PM every day, including the weekends, in English and Spanish. The new service is part of a robust suite of resources, tips, and tools we have available for kids, teens, and their families, which you can find on our website.”
This online tutoring help will be invaluable for kids who are receiving home instruction during their days and weeks home from school, who may need extra help with the material. This will be a completely online service.
Research Databases To Be Accessible From Home
Again, with the use of your library card, any resident of New York can access the expanded research databases on the library’s website. This will provide us all with access to valuable academic, in most cases peer-reviewed, studies on a variety of topics. This can be very useful for those of us who would like to keep abreast of the latest scientific research on topics of interest but may not be a member of an academic institution. Such people were reliant on the library’s physical locations to access these materials, and now they can access them from home. Again, a library card is essential to use this resource.
Access To Many Of The Books We Love Through The SimplyE App
While this app has been available for quite some time, it has most certainly been under-utilized, as many have preferred to read physical books. The library has been expanding, and continues to expand during this closure, the availability of books that are accessible through this app. It is highly recommended by this author that you don’t use your phone with the app if you can help it, as the type is then very small and may be difficult to read. If you have access to a tablet, it will be much easier to read the books on that device.
Unfortunately, this app is not compatible with older Kindle readers, such as the Paperwhite, but may be compatible with other Kindle and Nook products that are more like a tablet than simply a reader. The only way to know is to attempt to install the reader on whatever device you have. Many students are being provided with tablets and other devices, either on loan or given outright, by their New York City schools.
Books that are available through the SimplyE app are treated the same way as physical books. They are borrowed by a reader, they are held in the system by that reader until they are returned through the app, and you can apply for a hold on a digital book in the same way as for a regular book. The only difference is that the app will alert you when the book has been returned and is available for you to borrow.
Once again, the library wants to stress that they are here for all New Yorkers, and that every New Yorker has the right to continue to educate themselves (and entertain themselves if your preference is fiction) with books and other materials that were previously offered by the library. When the library announces that they are once again opening their branches, we will let you know.
We hope that you will take advantage of all the resources they are offering, as the more people that use them, the more likely it is that they will continue to be available. For the research libraries, this would be an excellent development, as it allows individuals who are interested in science to learn about the latest research even though they are not employed by an academic institution. Check back for updates about new offerings that the library will be providing as well, since if they decide to offer any other useful materials, we will let you know.