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Going Public: Cape Girardeau Public Library Announces Summer Programs And Expansion Of Services

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The Cape Girardeau Public Library / Katie Earnhart
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  The Cape Girardeau Public Library will be offering a series of additional services this summer including two new library card opportunities, various free public Wi-Fi locations, and the continuation of pre-pandemic activities and events.

The library is now offering a free card for residents outside of the municipal library district, one which originally required a paid membership. 

Library Director Katie Earnhart explained that resident boundaries have confused many library frequenters, and the new card addition has been something long requested by the community.

“These library district lines are set and haven't changed since 1965, so this has always caused a lot of confusion, a lot of hurt feelings. ‘I’m a city resident, why can't I use my city library?’ So we understand that frustration,” said Earnhart. “So we can't change the boundaries, but what we can do is change how we issue our cards.”

The new ‘non resident card’ is limited to checking out five physical items at a time, but it still gives individuals the opportunity for a free card.

The library is also offering free cards to staff of and students K-12 at local schools.

“It's always a goal and it's actually in our strategic plan to increase our youth cardholders to get more kids through the door, get them interested in reading, get them to have that love of reading, and also provide resources for those kids, especially this past year with the pandemic,” said Earnhart.

Earnhart explained that the library hopes the card is able to act as both an educational aid, and source of entertainment for students. 

“So many kids were having to take classes at home virtually and so by them having a library card through us it gives them access to our electronic resources, so any of our ebooks, audio books, magazines, we have comic books online, anything that they might need either for their own leisurely reading or even if it's something that they need for their coursework, just making sure that they have access to that.”

The Cape Girardeau Public Library also worked in partnership with Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation to provide free Wi-Fi for the community in several local parks. A ribbon cutting was held Wednesday, June 9th to officially announce the open access. 

“The idea behind that was to target the lack of broadband access in the state of Missouri. We wanted to provide access for students who are doing long distance learning, then also telehealth, again with the pandemic,” said Earnhart.

Earnhart explained that the free wifi allows individuals to make appointments and seek the help or treatment they need in safe, secure locations. 

 “By having this telehealth opportunity it means you can have a chat with your doctor, even see your medical care professional, without being in person. But again you have to be able to have the internet in order to have those appointments, so our goal was to provide that access.”

Alongside the newly added services, Earnhart mentions that the library is also excited to return to a state of normalcy later in the year with their regularly-scheduled services. 

“I think that the biggest thing is just transitioning to in person programming in the fall. We'll have our storytimes, our baby book programs, traditional adult programming, our crafternoons, tech tutoring, things of that nature.”

The library is aiming to return to its pre-pandemic programming in August and September.