Ames Public Library continues to serve community through online resources


The Ames Public Library continues to serve the Ames community through community events and opportunities to learn.

Logan Metzger

Ames Public Library may be closed, but its staff is still finding ways to serve the community through a variety of online resources.

Ames Public Library has been closed since March 17 and will be closed until May 15. Although the building is closed, the library is offering free access to  online resources.

“Ames Public Library is very much serving the community during our closure,” said Jillian Ocken, community relations specialist for Ames Public Library. “We’ve ramped up access to our online resources, like e-books, movie streaming and online learning by increasing the maximum number of checkouts where possible. People can also sign up for a library account online and get immediate access to our online services. Library staff are still available by phone and email, too.”

To access these resources, community members have to have a library card. Due to the closure of the library’s building, community members may now register online and immediately get their own library card number.

“Any new patrons can sign up for a library card and will receive a temporary barcode,” according to the Ames Public Library website. “With the temporary barcode, you will be able to access our streaming and ‘downloadables’ as well as our online resources while the Ames Public Library is closed.”

The library’s website noted cardholders must be a resident of Ames or rural Story County to access some digital resources, including certain downloadable e-books and e-audiobooks.

Those who already have cards need to use their library card number and pin or password to sign in to use these resources. If someone cannot find their library card, they can call the library at 515-239-5646 and select option 2 for customer account services. If someone forgot their password, they can use the reset password button on the library’s website.

All library cards with upcoming expiration dates will be set to expire after the library reopens.

One of the big services that Ames Public Library is offering is access for community members to a variety of resources where they can stream and download e-books, audiobooks, e-magazines, graphic novels, movies, TV and music.

Bridges allows users to browse, borrow and enjoy e-audiobooks, e-books, magazines and videos on their computer or tablet.

Hoopla allows users to download e-audiobooks, graphic novels, e-books, movies, music and television with no holds queue, meaning titles can be streamed immediately or downloaded to phones or tablets for offline enjoyment later.

Most movies and TV episodes are available for 72 hours from the time a user borrows the title. Most music albums are available for 7 days from the time a user borrows the title. Most audiobooks, comics and e-books are available for 21 days from the time a user borrows the title.

Kanopy allows users to “stream or download over 30,000 of the world’s best films, including award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films and world cinema,” according to the Ames Public Library website.

Play credits are used to play videos on Kanopy. Users receive 6 play credits per month through the Ames Public Library. Each video will use 1 play credit each, with the exception of those in Kanopy Kids, which do not count against the limit.

RBDigital allows users to check out e-magazines and download them to their computer or mobile device. Users can check out as many magazines as they like. There is no time limit on checkouts. Once someone checks out a magazine, it will remain in their personal “My Collection” until they delete it.

There are also multiple online resources for kids.

These include Tumblebook Library interactive stories, Khan Academy online learning and homework help, research tools and language learning.

The Ames Public Library is also providing a variety of ways for the community to connect with librarians.

“We’ve come up with some fun ways to connect online, like story times on Facebook live, our librarians sharing book recommendations on YouTube and our new ‘Stay Inside and Thrive’ weekly challenge,” Ocken said.

Parents and their kids can log on to Facebook for story time on Facebook Live. The library also posts other interesting stuff on their Facebook page, including videos, book recommendations and updates.

Librarians and other Ames Public Library staff members post new videos on the library’s YouTube channel.

The library has also started a “Stay Inside and Thrive Challenge,” which is a weekly challenge where librarians encourage the community to expand their horizons. April 6 was the first day of the first week of the challenge.

“Are you ready for something new?” according to the Ames Public Library website. “Try our first-ever Weekly Challenge. Pick from our Read/Watch/Do challenges, or go for all three, and share your progress with us. Your prize will be the respect and admiration of your local librarians.”

This week’s challenge includes:

Read: Dive into a “one day I’ll read this” book that’s been on your list for a long time. Audiobooks and e-books count.

Watch: Learn about another place or culture by watching a film set in another country.

Do: Create a journal of things that you have watched, played or read while social distancing.

Ocken said the library has also started doing other programs as a way to serve the community.

“Working with our community partners has opened up some great opportunities,” Ocken said. “One thing we’re very excited about is offering free books to children picking up Grab ‘n’ Go lunches through the Ames Community School District, thanks to funding from the Ames Public Library Friends Foundation. We will also be starting a weekly show on KHOI Community Radio Wednesdays at noon.”

The library is the only internet access that many Ames community members have, so the staff has been working to extend the library’s Wi-Fi signal as far outside the building as possible, Ocken said. The library has also checked out all of its Wi-Fi hotspots to get access to as many people as possible.

As for community members who currently have checked out materials, the library is urging everyone to keep them at home.

“Please keep all materials you currently have checked out until the library reopens,” according to the Ames Public Library website. “All due dates have been extended until May 30 or later. No fines will accrue on any items while the library is closed. Held items will not expire and will be available when we reopen.”