Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh challenges isolated borrowers to Stay In and Read with new online campaign | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh challenges isolated borrowers to Stay In and Read with new online campaign

Public libraries have been a reliable haven for people looking for free information, entertainment, and other resources in troubled times. But as of March 18, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) suspended all in-person services and closed all 19 locations in its system as a response to concerns over COVID-19.

To help ease this transition, CLP announced it would waive all fines and late fees on already checked-out materials, relax its borrowing policy, and extend due dates. In addition, library managers are also exploring streaming and virtual programming, as well as “brainstorming ways to provide library service in a way that is safe for staff and the community,” according to a press release.

To encourage patrons to borrow online, the library also launched Stay In and Read, a "virtual reading challenge" that encourages library cardholders to use their isolation time to catch up on any books they've been meaning to check out. Starting today, anyone can sign in and start logging any eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, or other digital materials available through CLP's expansive online collection, which can be accessed through the OverDrive borrowing platform. (Instructions to download material is available on the CLP webpage.)

The campaign runs through Thu., April 30, and users can register individually or as a family. The CLP website says logged books will "unlock achievements and badges and make readers eligible for prizes."

The campaign is similar to CLP's annual Summer Reading event, which has logged hundreds of thousands of books read by Pittsburgh patrons, who earn rewards like free library swag or books.

If past news is any indication, CLP cardholders need little incentive to borrow online. In January, the library announced that, in 2019, it had a record-breaking 1.9 million digital book checkouts.

CLP cardholders can access eBooks and audiobooks, as well as streaming TV and movies, magazines, music, and more. In an email, CLP says its Collection Development Department Managers are also in the process of “working in collaboration with eResource vendors to increase access to online books and audio.”

“It's no surprise that we think this is a great chance to catch up on your reading,” says a CLP email statement. “Plus, we miss seeing you and talking about the books you’re excited about. With our physical locations closed for a while, we want to stay connected.”

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