Transforming Our Youth Services to Match Transformed Lives

By Maggie Killman, Lifelong Learning Manager, Downtown Main Library 

In the past eight months, many of our schedules and routines have changed drastically in order to accommodate the new realities of life during a pandemic. We know that families have faced a shifting fall landscape of virtual and in-person schooling, activities, sports, and more. At the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, we also have been adapting our programs and services for youth in order to meet your and your family’s needs. 

Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey, opens a new window  so we can continue to evolve our programs and services to meet the needs of families in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Virtual Programming

Since the spring, hundreds of library programs have taken place fully online. We have a full complement of virtual programs for everyone, from storytimes to book clubs, conversation groups in English for speakers of other languages, classes to learn essential life skills, a virtual film club, and more. Our staff continues to work hard to innovate and craft new programming to suit digital spaces so that our customers who prefer virtual interaction these days still have lots of opportunities to connect with our staff with each other. 

In-Person Programs

We have innovated and adapted our in-person programming to adhere to health and safety restrictions during the pandemic. Many programs have moved outdoors while the weather has cooperated so that program participants can engage and interact from a safe physical distance. We have heard from so many of our customers that human-to-human connection is important to their well-being. Our staff has been developing creative solutions to continue in-person programs as we are able and pandemic permits, sometimes crafting something entirely new, such as our very popular drive-in storytimes. 

Take & Makes

Possibly our most popular new service, Take & Make kits are essentially programs-to-go: Library branches offer supplies and instructions needed to do a craft or activity from the comfort of your home. Stop by any branch beginning Friday, Nov. 13, to pick up a Take & Make kit for any kid age birth to 18. You also can learn more about other crafty options available at select branches in our recent blog post or by checking our events calendar. 

Meal Boxes and More

Given the drastic changes to families' schedules this fall, and the uncertainty of whether kids are attending school in person, we have shifted the way we provide meals to youth with the help of our valued partners. Now, every Monday from 3-5 p.m., community members can stop by participating library locations to receive free meal boxes for kids from that include seven meals, seven snacks, and seven milks, to help kids in our community stay fed throughout the week. We also have a new partnership with La Soupe that allows us to distribute locally made frozen meals for all ages at participating locations. Meals for youth are 100% federally funded.

Homework Help

While live virtual homework help is always available through Homework HelpNow, students can also stop in to select branches to receive assistance from one of our staff homework helpers. At the Downtown Main Library, we have space that is designated just for students to use library computers or bring their own laptops for free internet access. Students are always welcome to stop by any library location to work on homework or school assignments.

Parents and caregivers, we know you have faced so many changes alongside your children and teens, and we want to hear from you how those changes might impact what you and your family need from the Library. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey, opens a new window so we can continue to evolve our programs and services to meet the needs of families in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

For more information on library services available during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our Library Restart page.

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