Darlene and her son, Nolan, share time with a book. To protect his health, Nolan is not able to visit the library branch but the many services it offers allows the family to access materials at home. (FVRL/Special to The News)

Darlene and her son, Nolan, share time with a book. To protect his health, Nolan is not able to visit the library branch but the many services it offers allows the family to access materials at home. (FVRL/Special to The News)

ON THE PAGE: Maple Ridge library offers lifeline for many during pandemic

Did you know FVRL library cards are free to local residents?

By Liza Morris/Special to The News

Public libraries touch the lives of people in ways we do not always recognize.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, library staff have heard about how important the library is for people who need access to computers, free wifi or a printer.

We also hear about people desperate for study space or just a safe place outside their home where they can browse for books or DVDs to keep themselves entertained.

For some, their daily visit to the library in an important source of human connection during a time of increased social isolation.

For those with pre-existing health conditions, the library is a lifeline during COVID-19. Fraser Valley Regional Library supports adults and kids who need to stay at home with downloadable eBooks or audiobooks, free online streaming services and databases, FVRL Express contactless holds pick up and Library For You outreach services.

• READ MORE: Hours expanded at most Fraser Valley library locations

For one special new customer, FVRL Express has allowed him to start borrowing print books that he would not normally access.

Nolin is nine years old and has a rare disease called Nans Deficiency Syndrome, a condition where a missing enzyme affects bodily processes. He is the first person in the world to be diagnosed with this missing enzyme that so drastically affects his life.

Due to Nolin’s low immune system and many complexities, it means that he cannot visit public places like the library. In fact, Nolin has not left his home, except for medical appointments, since the lockdown began in March.

Nolin has been homeschooled since kindergarten because a regular school setting was too much of a risk to his health, even during pre-COVID times. Each month his mom, Darlene, designs themed learning units on topics like animals, sea creatures or magic.

Recently, they discovered FVRL Express and have started to order print books to support Nolin’s schooling. They had many great books at home, but Nolin was excited to start getting new books from the library. Now, his mom places requests for 30 to 40 books each month. With authorization to do so, a friend picks them up, leaves them by their front door and returns the books when they are done.

There are many in a similar situation to Nolin where staying home is the safest option right now.

Aside from the services mentioned above, FVRL also offers virtual Babytime and Storytime as a way to share stories, songs, rhymes and puppetry. For adults, new Zoom programs such as Ukulele Jam, Container Gardening and Knit & Stitch are a way to stay connected while staying safe.

• READ MORE: Borrow some sunshine from your local library this winter

For those people who were already staying at home even before the pandemic, FVRL’s Library For You outreach service provides materials for those who are unable to visit the library due to illness, age, or disability.

Currently FVRL’s Library For You serves customers at home, as well as in residential facilities throughout the Fraser Valley. Their youngest customer is 10 years old and their oldest customer just turned 106.

We have been forced to be apart from each other in ways we never could have anticipated a year ago. Please remember FVRL when you are looking for ways to keep yourself safely entertained and educated until we are able to be together again.

For more information about FVRL services and programs, check out www.fvrl.bc.ca or call your local library.

– Liza Morris is a community librarian at Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Maple Ridge branch

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