The Cherry Hill Public Library introduces new virtual events, resources, and volunteer opportunities

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Courtesy of the Sun Newspapers

On November 3rd, 2020, Cherry Hill Public Library began a two-week closure following the COVID-19 positive diagnosis of an employee.

Even during a pandemic, the Cherry Hill Public Library (CHPL) continues to connect with the community of Cherry Hill, proving that it truly is the “Heart of Town”. Although the library is currently closed due to an employee’s recent positive diagnosis for COVID-19, the CHPL team continues to provide virtual events, resources, and volunteer opportunities for students and their families.

“We’re sad to have to limit teens’ time in the building, so we’re hoping these virtual volunteering opportunities continue to remind [teens] that their voices are heard, and that they still continue to shape our teen services at [the library],” said Jasmine Riel, a librarian at CHPL. Riel currently manages teen volunteering while the teen services librarian is on an extended leave.

One way volunteers can share their voices while simultaneously earning community service hours is submitting creative work, such as poetry, short stories, and artwork, as well as music compositions, short films, and video performances. All of these pieces of work are to be featured in the library’s monthly digital teen newsletter.

“Quarantine can be really stressful, but [writing for the newsletter] is a great way to relax and take your mind off anything you’re stressing about,” said Ellie Noh (‘24), a past volunteer. Not only can students destress by expressing their thoughts and ideas, but during times when daily interactions are often separated by a computer screen, publishing their creative work can be a way for students to stay connected with their community.

In addition, volunteers in grades six through twelve can choose to write a young adult or middle grade book recommendation to earn one hour of community service. “A real book recommendation from a peer can feel more genuine,” Riel said. “Especially during these challenging times, I think a good book can really boost spirits”. Volunteers can email [email protected] to submit their book recommendations or creative work.

The Cherry Hill library also regularly hosts virtual events for kids of all ages. Some upcoming teen-focused events are SAT vs. ACT: Which is Right for My Teen?, a virtual question-answer session to help teens and parents navigate high school standardized testing. Another offered session is the Google Skills for Middle and High Schoolers. The Google Skills program, added to the library as part of a Grow with Google grant, is a series of four self-paced classes, covering topics ranging from designing infographics in Google Drawings to creating quizzes in Google Forms. Additionally, players of the popular game, Animal Crossing, can visit the CHPL Cove, the library’s own Animal Crossing island, every Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., during Animal Crossing Open Hours.

Along with virtual volunteering and events, the Cherry Hill Public Library offers many online resources. CHPL library card holders can easily access and download audiobooks, eBooks, comics, music albums, and movies from databases including Libby by OverDrive and Hoopla. The library also grants card-holders access to Creativebug, a database that provides thousands of tutorials for arts and crafts projects.

On top of that, the library encourages the community to get creative by providing Take and Make kits, which are organized craft kits that can be picked up from the library and completed at home. November’s featured kit allows you to make a “Book Safe” out of a vintage Nancy Drew book. Next month, the library will offer Take and Make kits for participants to make and decorate their own holiday gift tags.

The Cherry Hill Public Library’s November Take and Make kit is for a DIY book safe, made with a vintage Nancy Drew book. (Courtesy of the Cherry Hill Public Library)

As soon as it is safe to do so, the library hopes to reintroduce in-person events, such as cooking, DIY and crafting programs, while continuing many of their new virtual programs and resources, including Animal Crossing Open Hours and the teen newsletter. The library is planning on making the new programs permanent additions to the already abundant list of activities.

If you are interested in volunteering at the library, participating in an online event, or applying for a library card, check out the Cherry Hill Public Library’s website at chplnj.org.