Over the last 18 months, the Enoch Pratt Free Library has stood up new services, from Wi-Fi hotspots to virtual librarian booking. But with new tools, Baltimore City’s 22-location public library system hasn’t changed its approach.
“I feel like the mission of the library has never changed. The mission is always access,” said Meghan McCorkell, director of marketing and communications at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
McCorkell was the guest on the latest episode of Technical.ly Baltimore’s The Look Ahead, a video interview series focused on digital equity and lessons from the pandemic year. McCorkell talked about how the library has pivoted to continue to serve the community and provide access, even when folks can’t physically be in the building. We chatted about new virtual resources, like Live Chat with a Librarian, where people can schedule Zoom calls with librarians to get one-on-one help with research. With its branches having long been digital access points, the library has also played a role in providing connectivity. It distributed Wi-Fi hotspots to the community, and the extented the Wi-Fi outside its branches to provide free internet to surrounding communities.
McCorkell gave a primer for folks on how the library can still be a resource during the pandemic, even with increased space limitations and restrictions. The conversation offered a look at how legacy institutions can remain adaptable during a crisis.
With events still ongoing and branches reopened at 50% capacity, the programming model is continuing to be shaped. Leaders are taking lessons now that will undoubtedly prove valuable going forward.
“We’re really looking at a hybrid programming model now,” said McCorkell. “We know that for a little while at least people are not going to want to sit with a thousand people in a room. So, how do we take these big name speakers that we’ve always had, have a limited amount of people in the room, but maybe stream that program to every single library and let people participate in smaller groups at different libraries?”
For more on what Enoch Pratt has learned in 2020 and has to offer in 2021, check out the interview below:
Here’s the audio version:
Watch our conversation here:
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-