Imperial County Librarian Crystal Duran

EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Library is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, County Librarian Crystal Duran explained the library is still serving the families of the Imperial County community through other means.

According to Duran, summer is typically the busiest time of year for the libraries in Imperial County because children are out of school. During summer, more than 100 children enter the library weekly to participate in the summer learning program. Because of the COVID restrictions, the County Library is offering summer learning activity packets available through a contactless pick up.

Parents must register their children online to receive the packets. After registering, parents visit the library to pick up their packets full of activities, crafts, games, and other things to do throughout the week. The packet program will be available for families through the end of July. Duran said about 175 families have already utilized the new educational resource in the library’s second week of packet distribution.

Duran also spoke about the Raise a Reader Initiative, which normally includes weekly, in-person meetings with children ages 0-5. Duran said the library has shifted to a virtual story time to accommodate local families during COVID restrictions. Additionally, participants receive a family literacy kit every two weeks that includes crafts, games, and other items to promote play and early learning.

The Raise a Reader Initiative is 100 percent grant funded locally by the First Five Imperial Commission, according to Duran. She said 135 family literacy packets were distributed last week. The family literacy packets, unlike the summer learning activity packets, are delivered to participants.

“It’s challenging to put the little ones in their car seats, drive over to the library, and do a two-minute transaction. So, we’re providing that service to them because it is funded locally,” said Duran.

Duran said families from the Salton Sea area, Heber, Calexico, El Centro, Imperial, Brawley, Calipatria, and Niland are currently receiving packets.

She also said the adult literacy services at the library are still on-going. Typically, adult learners visit the library to learn one-on-one or in a small group with a tutor but are now meeting virtually through Zoom for their weekly classes. Duran said the adult learners are participating in online conversation classes and citizenship classes to practice and prepare for their citizenship tests.

“Even though our doors are physically closed, we are still providing service to the community because there is still a need,” said Duran.

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