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Ah, the irony of it all!  For those of us staying at home, staring at empty calendars, there is abundant time to read – and the library is closed.

Having had some warning, many of us could have stocked up on books and movies, but alas the announcement was necessarily sudden. 

Looking on the bright side, due dates and fines are suspended for any materials that had been checked out, so there is even more time to enjoy what we have on hand.

Although the physical doors of the library are locked, the digital library “door” remains wide open to anyone with a library card and access to a computer and the Internet. 

I am proud to say that without calling a single grandchild, I recently learned how to check out an E book and began reading it on my computer screen.

Not so hard.  Kind of magic.  You might want to try this at home!

A quick check on the library website http://www.ecrlib.org revealed an amazing array of programs and resources.

Those resources are available through East Central Regional Library digital services including both E Books and eAudiobooks, the Tumble Book Library for children K-6th grade, Universal Classes and Hoonuit, a program offering training in computer skills.  

Our regional library staff report that they are currently working on services that will provide online library card sign-up, Storytime via Facebook Live and online resources for the early literacy program, One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten. 

WiFi remains on for those who wish to access the internet from outside the library building.

Like me, I know that many library users are still attached to the printed page.  This prompted me to think about ways we can still manage to meet our need for the smell and feel of real paper, in addition to the piles and shelves of books we may have at home.

A quick check found that at least two independent book stores in the area remain open, including Princeton Book and Bible which is located in downtown Princeton.

Scout and Morgan, featuring both used and new books, is located in Cambridge and provides online ordering with curbside pick-up as well as in-store shopping. 

Local bookstores remain vital community assets and will benefit from our continued support.

Newspapers and magazines, still available by subscription and in grocery stores, provide important sources of information and entertainment.

We might try visiting one of the little libraries scattered around various neighborhoods – usually no checkout and no late fees, but interesting reading matter is often found in these cute little book houses.

There are many ways we can keep our minds active with puzzles and games.  We can satisfy our social needs with phone calls and texting, Skyping and Facetiming.

But I still miss our library, the friendly and helpful staff, the clean and orderly environment that still somehow beckons us into new adventures, the pleasure of scanning through the CDs and DVDs and the good, reliable computer system when one's own isn't up to the task. 

It's comforting to know that when life returns to normal, our brick and mortar library will still be there inviting us in to check it out!

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