CINCINNATI — "The only thing that you absolutely have to know,” Albert Einstein is rumored to have once said, “is the location of the library."
That’s not enough these days, with many local businesses – and all 41 branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County – shutting down to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
But while some organizations scramble to serve their audiences via virtual initiatives in this strange new (temporary) world, the library has been ready all along.
Enter the eBranch.
Card-carrying members of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have at their fingertips a wealth of e-books, digital collections, and – yes – even streaming movies and programs. Simply dial up the apps, enter your library membership information with a PIN, and you’re all set.
“Almost all libraries offer digital content now,” said Chris Rice, marketing team manager at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
He reported that recent use of eBranch services has amounted to approximately 150,000 e-book downloads per month; 95,000 e-audiobooks; 20,000 music downloads; 50,000 songs streamed; 10,000 feature films streamed; and 20,000 downloaded magazines. That’s a whole lot of material, in addition to their physical collection.
“We have several services, and each one has a lot of offerings,” said Rice.
He also pointed out that the services, in the wake of school and business closures, are working hard to help library members acquire digital items faster. And, despite its own closure, library employees themselves have been “devoting more of our resources to digital content,” he said. “If you spend some time on the eBranch page, you’ll get a pretty good idea of the vast amount of resources available.”
No library card? No problem, Rice said.
“It’s quick to sign up, and you get access to online services as soon as you finish the application,” he said.
There, users are able to access a database of digital service providers.
“We have guides available to get help (them) get started, and our call center is staffed right now to help by phone.”
Access to those digital services isn’t limited to Cincinnati residents, either.
“If you live in Ohio, you can get a library card at any library in Ohio,” Rice said, “and we have a reciprocal agreement with Northern Kentucky (Campbell, Kenton, and Boone) libraries as well.
“We want all Hamilton County residents to be able to use the library, particularly in this trying time. Aside from working to get more digital material in customer hands, we’re already planning for the varying possibilities of offering service, even if we’re not open 100%.”