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Here are the top 5 downloaded books from Maryland libraries as coronavirus forces readers to stay home

While avid readers are finding “closed” signs on the front doors of area libraries due to the coronavirus pandemic, the long-standing public institution is proving to be just as busy, if not more, as it finds other ways to serve the community.

Prominently displayed on the various county public library home webpages, along with the Enoch Pratt Free Library, is a reminder that their digital libraries are open 24/7. Customers are taking full advantage, checking out e-books, audiobooks and e-magazines, while streaming movies, television shows and music, and using other useful tools libraries are providing online. See the Top 5 most downloaded e-books by county below.

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At Enoch Pratt, anybody can log on to its website to register for a digital library eCard. Spokeswoman Meghan McCorkell said since the physical libraries first closed last month, more than 700 have been issued per week.

“From March to April, we’re going to wind up with over 3,000 new library users, so it’s pretty tremendous,” McCorkell said. “We’ve seen a really steep increase in the usage of our digital resources, so we’re excited about that and trying to keep up with demand because we’re also the state library of Maryland providing services across the state. People are really loving video audio books, we’re also providing streaming television shows, streaming movies, streaming music mostly for teenagers. … So we have a bunch of different platforms people can access.”

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As the state library, Pratt has increased its number of available tutors through the Brainfuse program, a live online tutoring and education portal.

Carroll County Public Library is operating all of its 3D printers to fabricate parts for face shields that will protect medical workers in the coronavirus fight

“So say your kid is doing sixth grade math and they don’t do sixth grade math now the way you did in school, so you have no idea how to do it,” McCorkell said. “You can log on to our database and your child can get in touch with a live tutor, they then can work with an online blackboard and show children how to do the math problems.

They won’t do it for them, they’ll just show them how to work it through until the child is able to understand it. That’s a free service with your library card.”

As the communications and media relations director for the Baltimore County Public Library, Erica Palmisano is always encouraging people to read and – during this difficult time – even more. Since the pandemic, she has had a much bigger audience.

“I think people are reading more than ever,” Palmisano said. “Reading keeps your mind active. It keeps you from not feeling trapped at home because you’re really visiting another world, another person’s experience while your reading a book. So whether you’re reading a physical book, or an e-book, or listening to an audio book, you really are transported to another place or another time.”

In addition to providing digital services and technical tools to stay connected with the community, the Carroll County Library, working in conjunction with the Maryland Makers Unite project, is using its 3-D printers to make parts for protective face shields for health care workers.

With 11 branches serving over a million people a year, Harford County Public Library CEO Mary Hastler has her staff already planning for the post-pandemic days, including the exploration of providing Wi-Fi access in the county beyond inside its libraries and parking lots.

The future presents many questions. How to handle library materials? Should libraries be open with staggered time or possibly having customers make reservations? Are closed stacks – secure storage areas – an option moving forward with customers requesting materials and employees retrieving them? Should every library branch have drive-thru windows?

“So we are coming up with new procedures when we do re-open,” Hastler said. “We’ve got so many exciting things to think about and it really is a real paradigm shift for us as a public library.”

Here’s a look at the Top 5 most downloaded ebooks in Baltimore area libraries since Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic:

Anne County Public Library

1. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins

2. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

3. Golden in Death – J D Robb

4. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

5. Becoming - Michelle Obama

Baltimore County Public Library

1. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling

3. Becoming - Michelle Obama

4. Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Series - Lee Child

5. Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover

Carroll County Public Library

1. Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum - Michael McCreary

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling

3. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

4. Under Currents: A Novel - Nora Roberts

5. Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Series - Lee Child

Enoch Pratt Free Library

1. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

2. Becoming - Michelle Obama

3. Such a Fun Age - Kiley Reid

4. The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides

5. Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover

Harford County Public Library

1. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

2. Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

3. I Need a New Butt! – Dawn McMillan

4. Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Series – Lee Child

5. Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum – Michael McCreary

Howard County Public Library

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - J.K. Rowling

2. Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum – Michael McCreary

3. Becoming -- Michelle Obama

4. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

5. Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

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