Community Perspective: Public library has resources to learn more about COVID-19 and to get a break from it

Massanutten Regional Library is closed to the public through the end of March, but it offers access to many online resources.

A contributed Perspectives piece by Paul Frankel

As we grapple with the Coronavirus and its effect on our daily lives, we are all trying to find out what its means for us. With all the fake information floating out there, it’s important we understand where to find accurate and helpful information.  

Here are some health resources that you can rely on for up-to-date and quality information. This list is not exhaustive, and there are a lot of other wonderful resources out there, but it’s a starting point if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Health Resources: 

Library resources for information:

Keep in mind that these resources require a Massanutten Regional Library card number, located on the back of your library card. If you want to access these resources, but do not have a library card and live in Harrisonburg, Rockingham or Page County please reach out to the reference desk by email, [email protected] or phone 540-434-4475 x122. 

  • Consumer Reports – Consumer Reports has created a Coronavirus Resource hub that has a range of articles on Coronavirus and what to do if you have symptoms.
  • Pronunciator – This is a language learning resource that has published a self-directed online language course providing vocabulary and phrases related to COVID-19 in 101 languages. The course is meant to help people including healthcare providers communicate across multiple languages about COVID-19. 
  • Newsbank – Newsbank is an online resource that provides access to a range of newspapers. They have created a world health “special report” that curates articles about COVID-19 from a range of news sources.

Evaluating information sources

There’s also a lot of misinformation out there, both online and sometimes coming at us in text messages, as this New York Times article pointed out

With that in mind, here are some tips for evaluating sources for any information you come across: 

  1. Who is the author? What are the person’s qualifications? Are they listed on the web page you are reading? If none of this information is available, be skeptical. Google the author’s name.
  2. What is the source you are reading from? Does it have an “about page”? Who runs the website? Have you heard of the organization before? Is it affiliated with specific companies, industries or interest groups?  
  3. When was the information published? Every day new information is coming out about the Coronavirus. If it’s an article from three or four days ago, the information might be out of date.
  4. Where did the webpage get their information from? Does it cite or link to original sources? If it doesn’t cite or link to any sources, be skeptical. 
  5. Is the information you are reading repeated on other websites? Shop around. Read multiple sources to find your information. If you read something and no other website mentions it, be skeptical.

Feel overwhelmed? Try these resources to take your mind off COVID-19

I also know many people want to take a break and think about something else. The following is a list of online library resources that can provide a little bit of an escape. 

Again these require a Massanutten Regional Library card, but please do contact us if you don’t have one yet and live locally.

  • Creativebug – It offers over 1,000 free video classes in drawing, painting, sketchbooking, sewing, quilting, knitting, jewelry making, and much more. Here are some examples of fun classes that utilize materials you may already have in your home: “Playing with Watercolor,” “How to Mend Clothing,” “Hand-Rolled Truffles,” and many more.
  • Pronuncatior and Rosetta Stone – These both are online language learning resources. Both are structured slightly different so try them both out to see which one fits your learning style best. 
  • Consumer Reports – Thinking about replacing an appliance or wanting to buy something new? Use the time you are home and research which is the best and most reliable product to buy.
  • Universal Class – Universal Class offers over 500 online courses, which are either self-paced or instructor-led. Classes offered cover a wide variety of topics such as accounting, computers, writing, cooking, crafts, and many more.
  • HeritageQuest – Research your family history using census data, Revolutionary War records, family history books, and more.
  • Ancestry for Virginians – The Library of Virginia provides access to limited set of Virginia birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.
  • Overdrive – It provides eBooks to library patrons.
  • RBdigital – It provides eAudiobooks and magazines to library patrons

Paul Frankel is a reference librarian at Massanutten Regional Library. You can reach him at [email protected].


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