Ashlee Chavez, the Director of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Ashlee Chavez, Director of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Ashlee Chavez, Director of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, shared with us how the library is continuing to serve our community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Q: Can people access library services right now? If so, how?

A: Yes. We are finding creative ways to provide services despite our closed facilities. We just launched a home delivery service that allows patrons to place holds on materials and get them delivered to their door within seven days. This applies to our entire service district – not just Corvallis! We have also started offering interactive book clubs and other virtual events and are creating new online content for kids, teens and adults such as Stay at Home Storytime videos, homework help, a Craft at Home video series, and recorded tutorials that teach you how to use library services. We’ve increased the number of digital offerings we have, including ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, streaming video and more. We’ve even brought back READ Dogs with online sessions available by appointment.

We continue to answer questions via phone, chat and email. And anyone who doesn’t have a library card, but would like one, can easily sign up on our website.

Q: In what ways is the library supporting the community response to the pandemic?

A: When the crisis started, we quickly started using our 3D printers and new Makerspace area to print PPE components for face shields and masks. We’ve recently shifted into printing “mask adjusters” that allow for a better, more comfortable fit for face coverings, to help out the many front-line workers who must wear a face covering all day. The Corvallis Library’s parking garage became the PPE donation collection site, in coordination with the joint City/County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Many of our staff are working in the EOC assisting with recovery efforts.

Q: What needs and challenges is the library facing?

A: What will reopening our large and heavily used community buildings look like? Exploring this question is proving to be incredibly complex. I hope the community will support us in allowing for time to work through the safest way to open our buildings again. We miss seeing patrons so much, but ensuring everyone’s safety is our top priority. We hope that delivering our services in other ways will help make that wait a little more bearable.

Q: The library usually provides a suite of services to vulnerable community members, such as internet and computers, support services and information. How is the library working to provide alternative ways for these folks to get their needs met?

A: This is a huge challenge for us and other organizations. As we work hard to deliver services in new ways, we’re seeing an even larger gap in who can and cannot access information and services. We have provided WiFi hotspots to some partner organizations that are serving more vulnerable populations. This doesn’t solve everything, but it does help a bit. We continue to explore other ways to help our community with these needs.

We are also starting to offer recorded tutorial videos that help walk viewers through complicated and confusing processes like applying for unemployment benefits.

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

A: What we offer continues to expand every day! If you hear of a need out there, please let us know. We have a backlog of ideas we are working through and we offer more to the community with each passing day. Below are some frequently-updated links to our resources:

A lot of this content is posted on our YouTube page:

Here is information on delivery services:

Virtual events are here:

Learning at Home support resources:

A sign posted in the window of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. The sign reads: "See you soon" in multicolored font.