Pleasanton toddlers don't have to miss story time at the library. Their favorite librarians now read to them on the city's new Virtual Library and Recreation Center.
Tracy Newman, recreation supervisor at the city's aquatics center, shows how to teach young children to swim in the bathtub, instructing her son Clayton.
Firehouse Arts Center gallery curator Rachel Montez and her son Leo demonstrate making cook-less playdough.
These are but a few of the offerings on the new website, created by department staff members when residents began to shelter in place and public facilities closed.
"We are always looking for ways to engage with the entire Pleasanton community, no matter how they live and work and play," said Nick Binzoni, community and public relations coordinator for the Library and Recreation Department.
When facilities were closing, department staff quickly began to brainstorm on how to continue to serve Pleasanton.
"We saw virtual activities as a great way to engage with the community while they are at home through creating a hub that would be a great place to watch activities and events they otherwise would have attended in person," Binzoni said.
"In times like this, we should be a haven for people to go to and get a piece of their everyday life, to be able to see folks and join them," he continued. "It's nice for everyone — to feel good and to have a moment to learn and be with each other."
Department staff members meet daily using videochat to discuss activities to add to the site and ways to improve it.
"It continues to evolve, based on those meetings," Binzoni said. "At first we were doing a great job reaching out to parents and children. Then we said, 'What about adults and teenagers?' We want to develop content for everyone."
"We're drawing on our staff's expertise to create videos," he added.
Alviso Adobe Community Park staff members developed a workbook on the website with eight activities for children to explore Pleasanton's nature and history. Interactive quizzes include topics such as "What historical figure are you?" and "What historical home are you?"
The cool part, Binzoni noted, is that even these days, the family can drive down Foothill Road and point out the historic park and make plans to visit at a later date. It is all about keeping that community feeling, he said.
"We would love suggestions about how we can improve the site," Binzoni said. "We always want to hear from the community."
The site lists the library's social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It also has links to free eResources and instructions to downloading e-books and audiobooks from the library as well as apps for newspapers and magazines around the world, streaming movies, and language lessons.
A feature toward the bottom has maps showing locations of the Free Little Libraries that are located throughout town for people to borrow books. These libraries – often works of art – are installed by residents, who put in the first set of books. Neighbors then share resources by bringing a book to replace the one they borrow and to keep the Free Little Library stocked.
But the Pleasanton Public Library, 400 Old Bernal Ave., is closed, and patrons who have materials check out are asked to keep them until sheltering in place has finished.
Meanwhile, Binzoni emphasized, keep checking back at the Virtual Library and Recreation Center to see what's new.