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March 13, 2020

How a Bookworm Prepares for an Emergency

by Donna Huber

How does a bookworm prepare for an emergency? Hint: It isn't by stocking up on toilet paper.

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In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about what-ifs and how to prepare in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you followed the news yesterday there was an abundance of event cancelations and school closures across the country announced and those what ifs are quickly becoming what is. Reading can be a great way to take a break from the 24/7 news reports. Here are tips for making sure you can escape into the pages of a good book, even if you are stuck at home.

While preparing our emergency kits, bookworms like you and I are thinking about how to have enough reading material. Sure Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, your local independent bookstore, etc. will continue to ship your orders of books. But if you are on a budget or rely on your local library for your books you may be concerned about it remaining open. The good news is that many library systems offer digital services to access ebooks, audiobooks, and even magazines for free.

Now is the time to look into what is offered by your library and seek assistance in accessing those services.

Many libraries provide free access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and sometimes videos through services like Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla Digital. So even if you can't get to the library physically, you still have access to a whole library via your computer, tablet, phone, or ereader. (Unlike with blizzards and tropical storms - the electricity and internet should continue working). Just remember to regularly clean the surfaces of your devices, particularly if you share devices with at-risk family members.

Georgia residents have access to GALILEO which is a digital library initiative of the University System of Georgia. If you are a nonfiction reader, this would probably be a resource you want to check out. A password is required, which you can get from your library (I don't think it changes often so once you have it you should be good for a while). It also has special sections for elementary school, middle school, and high school. So if you are stuck home with kids, not only can you keep them entertained with ebooks you can also find articles, images, videos, and more to help with those homework assignments. Other states may have a similar resource, so be sure to check with your local library.

Learn a new language! Through my library, I also have access to foreign language lessons through Mango Languages. There's an option to login via my library or as a guest.

Really like print books? Some libraries have mobile libraries where you can order books and have them delivered to your door. Often this service is for shut-ins and nursing homes, but it could be an expanded service that libraries start offering as more people engage in social distancing. Another option many communities have for accessing print books are "little free libraries". It is a way to share books while practicing social distancing. While not required, consider leaving a book every time you take one so that there will be plenty of books for everyone. You can find one near you at

Reading can be a great way to deal with the stress many of us are experiencing during this time of uncertainty (read Is Our Reading Obsession Unhealthy), how are you making sure you have enough reading material? We would also love to know what you are reading.

I might be down to my last 6 rolls of toilet paper and there's none to be had in the stores, but I will not be using pages from a book.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. i don't believe my library participates with any of the lenders and their list of ebooks leaves a lot to be desired. no worries though my kindle is overflowing and i have stacks on the floor. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. My library uses RB Digital which leaves a lot to be desired but when I need an audiobook it works in a pinch. I also have overflowing stacks of review books that I need to read. My job can be done from home so I'll be working from home, but I should have an extra hour every day since I don't have to commute.