During this time of staying home and staying healthy, record numbers of people are accessing Whatcom County Library System’s free digital services. Now, they can say thanks by donating to support library programming during the second annual Library Giving Day campaign, a one-day online fundraising event on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Library Giving Day donations can be made online at wcls.org/give. Proceeds go to the Whatcom County Library Foundation.
“Even though our buildings are closed and our staff are working from home, our libraries have been keeping our community inspired, engaged and informed with a wide variety of online resources and original content created by local library staff,” says Christine Perkins, executive director of the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS). “Looking at our numbers, it’s clear that Whatcom County loves its libraries.”
County residents flocked to library buildings March 14 and 15, the last weekend before WCLS closed its libraries to the public in accordance with COVID-19 public health guidelines. On that weekend, check out of physical items soared seven times higher than the previous weekend at WCLS’s 10 branches. Community members checked out 36,513 physical items in two days.
Following the closure, access to WCLS’s digital resources has skyrocketed.
For example, this March compared to March 2019, new users of eBooks and eAudiobooks jumped 200% with a corresponding 28% increase in check outs. In that same time period, 150% more people used the library system’s free music streaming service, Freegal. There was a 256% jump in community members accessing the libraries’ free streaming movie service, Kanopy. And log ins to NewsBank, a paywall-free archive of local and international newspapers were up 651% (283 log ins in 2019 compared to 2,126 in 2020).
During this Stay Home, Stay Healthy period, WCLSstaff are available to help patrons over the phone every day of the week. This phone service is particularly critical for people who do not have internet access at home. Library staff are connecting citizens to essential health information, job listings, small business resources, and other services. They’re also a friendly ear for the community’s most vulnerable people.
“Judging by the tremendous response, it’s clear to us that people value the free, authoritative, friendly and trusted services offered by their libraries. We’re grateful for the support and interest,” Perkins says. “As we take stock of the things that matter most to us, I hope you count libraries among the places you are grateful for in our community and choose to donate on Library Giving Day. With private support, our libraries can weather uncertain economic times, address emerging community needs, and innovate.”
Community members don’t have to wait until April 23 to give. Donations of all sizes are now being accepted online. This year’s Library Giving Day is especially critical for WCLS because the Whatcom County Library Foundation had to cancel its only fundraising event in accordance with COVID-19 public health guidance. The spring event typically raises $30,000 annually.
To learn more about supporting the Whatcom County Library System on #librarygivingday, please visit wcls.org/give.