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Literacy in America

Parents, Caregivers Look to Nation’s Libraries to Cope With COVID-19

Kirby McCurtis

President, Association for Library Service to Children

Amid the ongoing pandemic (and everything else happening in the world), libraries can help us cope and eventually recover.

Living in today’s world — a global pandemic, a volatile political landscape, and a heated public debate over issues like race, immigration, healthcare, and climate change — is challenging enough for adults.

But think about how it must be for children who are exposed to both their parents’ problems and their own struggles: the impact of a parent’s divorce, an argument with a friend, the menace of a bully, or difficulty dealing with schoolwork, especially in a digital classroom.

Parents need an ally to support their kids, and children’s library professionals are here to help. They provide a pipeline to materials, programs, and services that support families in their communities. Librarians can facilitate difficult conversations with our children. They offer resources that help families navigate discussions of potentially uncomfortable topics.

More important, they are uniquely trained to evaluate content intended for children. Children’s librarians leverage this expertise to select high-quality books, recordings, and apps.

Beyond that, children’s librarians offer expertise in the safe and effective use of digital devices and content, providing valuable guidance to address privacy and security concerns.

From youth-centric books about how to deal with the pandemic to titles that inspire conversations with children going through challenging situations like the death of a loved one, an unexpected move, and natural disasters, library professionals are here to help.

In addition, library staff are working with parents and caregivers to provide suggestions for creating a family media plan, resources for caring for a newborn in the age of COVID-19, and information about balancing parenting and coping with other COVID-19 challenges.

As a society, we face challenges ahead. But we can rest assured that librarians will be agents of healing and valuable resources in times of crisis.

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