Litchfield Public Library

Are you looking for a vaccine appointment, but you don’t have access to a computer or the internet? I know that’s a major barrier to many people in our area, especially for some senior citizens who are currently eligible to get a shot. Public libraries offer access to computers, and library staff can give you some basic help to navigate them.

To use a library computer, call the library to schedule a one-hour computer appointment. We offer appointments during all operating hours. You will need to wear a mask the whole time you’re in, and you will be limited to that one hour per day.

Limited computers are in use to allow space for physical distancing, and we have 6 feet marked around each computer so that others can stay out of that space. Staff members wipe down the keyboards, mice, and desk surfaces after each use, and we put out a new keyboard and mouse between users.

Getting help from library staff on the computers works a little differently these days, since we can’t stand right next to you to help. We have software on our staff computers now that allows us to view your screen and give you assistance with getting to websites, clicking on things, and printing, if you want us to do that. We can’t fill out a form for you, but we can help you get to it. We are far away at our front desk computers while we’re helping, and behind plexiglass, so hearing us can sometimes be a challenge. If you have a family member you can bring along to help you on the computer instead, that can sometimes be easier and more private. Two people are allowed to use a computer together.

The state of Minnesota has a website everyone can use to sign up to be notified when they’re eligible for the vaccine and get connected to resources to schedule an appointment: You don’t have to be part of a currently eligible group to get signed up for future opportunities. If you don’t have access to a computer or you aren’t comfortable signing up that way, you can call the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector Hotline at 833-431-2053 to get on the list. You can also call that number to have someone assist you with the sign-up process when you use the website. The link to the state website is available on the left bar of Pioneerland libraries’ websites.

If you have a laptop, tablet, or phone you can use to sign up and you just need wifi to use with it, you can park in the library parking lot any time, even when it’s closed, and use the library’s wifi. No password is necessary.

The library also offers mobile hotspots for checkout. If you have your own computer, tablet, or smartphone, but not your own internet connection at home, or one that’s slow or limited, you can check out a hotspot that will give you a wifi connection to high-speed internet. The hotspots are from T-Mobile, so the strength of the signal where you live depends on how good T-Mobile service is there. Cosmos Library doesn’t offer the hotspots because the signal is too weak in that area.

If you’d like to check out a hotspot, call the library and have your library card number at the ready, or stop in with your card. Most of the time they’re all checked out so you can’t get one immediately, but you can reserve one, and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for you to pick up. You can keep it for up to four weeks.

If you’d like to come into the library, you can call ahead to schedule a 15-minute time to pick out books and audiovisual materials, make photocopies, or get a library card, or you can just call from outside when you’re at the library. We have capacity limits, so we may ask you to wait outside for a few minutes, but most of the time you’ll be able to come in right away. I strongly recommend you call in advance to schedule your computer appointment so that you’re not waiting outside for a long time until a computer is available.

Children age 12 and under need to be accompanied by an adult in the library these days. Masks must be worn at all times in the building, in accordance with the state requirements. Curbside service remains available during all library hours, and we are very happy to deliver your items that way.

— Beth Cronk is Meeker County librarian, overseeing all Pioneerland Library facilities in the county, including those in Cosmos, Dassel and Grove City, in addition to Litchfield.