• Beth Roberts

Shelf Talk 3: COVID-19 Response

By Beth Roberts, MCLS PR and Customer Service Specialist


On Sunday afternoons, my family rests. Monday through Saturday is a never-ending series of commitments, meetings, activities, play dates, household chores, and work. Your week is probably just as busy. We all look forward to a quiet, restful Sunday: a few hours after church when we can play outside, pick up a hobby, read a book, and breathe. Last Sunday afternoon was no exception. We were settling in for an afternoon of crafts (St. Patrick’s Day was a few days away; my kids would never let the occasion pass without setting a leprechaun trap!) when my phone alerted me to a press conference. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a two-week closure of all Arkansas schools as part of a series of precautions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.


We all knew the governor’s announcement was coming, but the timing surprised me. Suddenly, my restful Sunday afternoon became a time to make final preparations before an extended self-quarantine. Our home was already well-stocked on food and supplies, but a minimum of two weeks without school, sports, or activities? How would we fill the time? We needed to visit the library! Half an hour later, my children’s arms were piled high with new books. We weren’t the only ones to make a last-minute visit. While at the library, we saw several other families stocking up on reading material. Even the Scouts came, checking out books in anticipation of earning reading badges. Like the people flooding stores and anxiously buying out the last rolls of toilet paper, library customers wanted to be sure they were well-provided with reading necessities!


If you couldn’t stock-up on reading supplies, great news: it’s not too late! While the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) is following current government recommendations on social distancing, our digital resources are always available. MCLS closed Monday, March 16th, and will remain closed through at least March 30th. Proactive closures of schools and public spaces have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of a virus. Closed public spaces do not just protect children, they also protect the entire community by effectively forcing parents and workers to stay home. We need to disconnect from our busy everyday lives and refrain from contact with people outside our households. We need to slow the spread of the virus enough and “flatten the curve” so that our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.


We need to treat each day as if it were Sunday afternoon. Yes, there is still work to do and schooling to complete, but we will have more time without obligations. Time to play outside, pick up a hobby, read a book, and breathe. Your MCLS has lots of free resources to help you fill this time. Your library card gives you free access to Libby, a reading app, with more than 60,000 titles for you to check out and enjoy. There’s something for everyone: eBooks, AudioBooks (listen while you cook, fold laundry, or drive), and popular digital magazines. If you need help, don’t worry! MCLS has partnered with the Armorel EAST Program to create handy step-by-step instructional videos, found under the “Use Your Library” tab at www.mclibrary.net. Under the same tab, you’ll find links to databases and other digital resources.


Follow Mississippi County Library System on Facebook for online storytimes, reading groups, crafts, and more!


Your MCLS is still ready to serve our community. Thank you for your patience as we adapt our policy and services to suit this unique time. Our book drops are still open for you to return borrowed items, but be aware that your account may not be immediately updated, as returned items will be placed in “book quarantine” for 72 hours before they are checked-in.


You must have an active library card to use Libby or Overdrive. If your card is expired, email your name, address, current phone number, and library card number to cardrenew@mclibrary.net with “MCLS Library Card” in the subject line, and we’ll get you back online as soon as possible. If you don’t have a library card, now’s the time to get a temporary account! Email cardrenew@mclibrary.net for instructions.


There is a possibility that we’ll need to extend social distancing measures past March 30th. If that happens, watch for updates about innovative ways to checkout books and participate in library programming. As always, I’m available for questions and assistance; you can reach me at broberts@mclibrary.net. Stay home and stay healthy, Mississippi County!

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Mississippi County Library System

200 North 5th Street

Blytheville AR 72315

870-762-2431