In these unprecedented times, Pikes Peak Library District is a constant. This year, the need for PPLD’s resources has been greater than ever.
A couple months ago, I was visiting the Old Colorado City Library and met a man named Charlie. The building was still closed to the public at that time due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, but curbside service was available and Charlie was waiting to collect items he had checked out. We got to talking and Charlie told me he was there to check out a WIFI hotspot. Like so many others, Charlie lost his job during the pandemic and without internet he couldn’t apply for jobs. “I don’t have internet at home and everything is online these days. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t get internet through the library.”
As the second largest library system in Colorado, PPLD operates 16 facilities and serves a population of more than 660,000 residents in El Paso County. In 2019, patrons made 3.1 million visits to the library and checked out nearly 8.3 million items. There were more than one million uses of our paid and locally developed databases. We received 50,000+ online meeting room requests and 250,000 people attended a library program.
When COVID-19 hit El Paso County in March of this year the impact library closures had on our community was felt immediately. Hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the library for critical resources and services suddenly found PPLD’s doors closed. During the course of weeks and months following the library’s initial closure, PPLD quickly adapted to a new reality, and the accomplishments we have realized while successfully pivoting around a “new normal” have become a model for libraries throughout the country.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PPLD expanded its remote and virtual offerings in a myriad of ways. Our librarians are bringing their services to you, anywhere and anytime. Library patrons can watch a virtual story time with their kids, participate in a virtual book club, or join us for a community movie discussion. Patrons can ask one of our reference librarians questions by phone, live chat, and email. For parents who have suddenly found themselves teachers, we have ample resources for children and teenagers, including homework help, reading help, planning for the future, and more. Patrons can stream and download eBooks, music, and videos from almost anywhere!
All 15 Libraries and three mobile Libraries continue to offer curbside service, making it easy for you to return materials and safely pick up items without having any direct contact with Library staff or other patrons. And, on July 1, Library facilities have re-opened to the public in accordance with public health and safety guidelines.
PPLD participated in several initiatives to address unique community challenges brought about by this pandemic. We have been a part of the statewide Make4Covid movement and worked with makers throughout our region to help in the production of personal protective equipment for the medical community, first responders, and those who need it most. PPLD staff installed public water stations at Penrose Library so any and all can fill containers whenever needed. Staff members also boxed up thousands of books and handed them out at free lunch distribution sites throughout Colorado Springs. So, when people came for a meal, they got a book, too.
For nearly 60 years, Pikes Peak Library District has stood as a pillar of the community, and we will continue to serve the community in every way we can during this pandemic and beyond. But, none of this is possible without the public’s investment and donors like you. PPLD has felt the economic impacts of the pandemic, and we are now facing a budget shortfall of at least $500,000. Will you support PPLD, and people like Charlie, by donating today? Your charitable gift of $30, $50, $100 or $1,000* will help PPLD be stronger and more prepared to accommodate the changing times and the growing need for our many critical services.