SHELTON — The doors may be closed, but Shelton library staff are still connecting with residents.

Shelton Library Director Joan Stokes said that through Zoom and Facebook, staffers are still reading stories to local youngsters, while library card holders are continuing to access materials — from movies to music, TV shows to books — through links such as Hoopla and Overdrive on the library website.

When it comes to the ability to connect with the community, “Librarians are always at the forefront,” said Stokes. “This is a great way to get and stay connected with everyone. But we do really miss the personal contact. We are always thinking about the people who come in our doors every day.”

Stokes said once it became clear that library doors would be closing, staff brainstormed ways to continue to serve people in the community. Huntington Branch Children’s Librarian Jessica Prutting began using Zoom for story time, while Maura Gualtiere began offering story times daily on Facebook.

Patrons can remotely attend story times through a Zoom link on the Shelton Libraries website and join Prutting at story time, or connect on Facebook with Gualtiere’s Facebook page, Miss Maura’s Programs.

As of right now, Prutting offers one program planned for each day of the week.

Mondays, at 12:30 p.m., is Lunch with a Librarian, during which Prutting reads a food-themed story while kids, ages 0 to 10, eat their own lunches at home. Tuesdays, at 10:30 a.m., is Story Explorers with Prutting reading a children's book from her own bookshelf to children ages 0 to 10. Wednesdays, at 3 p.m., is Teen Trivia Challenge for teenagers 13 and older. Thursdays, at 3 p.m., Prutting will read two chapters from the children's classic My Father's Dragon to children ages 0 to 12. Fridays, at 3 p.m., is Crafternoon during which Prutting will show children ages 0 to 12 how to make a craft from materials they have around the house, and kids can show off any arts and crafts they have been working on themselves. All programs run between 15 to 30 minutes.

Prutting said, to better secure the Zoom meetings, patrons must register online and provide an email address. The meeting code will then be sent to that email address.

“I feel it is important to provide the best services we can to the community during this difficult time,” said Prutting, “and right now that looks like sharing information about learning opportunities with caregivers via Facebook, audiobooks and ebooks for patrons of all ages via our website, and digital programs for children and teens via Zoom.

“My hope is to provide children and their caregivers with resources that will help them navigate learning from home as well as some social interaction with their peers,” added Prutting. “Digital programming certainly is challenging, but it is proving to be a learning opportunity not just for me but for librarians all over the country who have been sharing their ideas and supporting one another.”

Patrons can also download ebooks, audiobooks, movies, television series, music or comic books by visiting sheltonlibrarysystem.org.

Stokes said the internet connection has become a great way for people to remain a part of the library family while staying safe at home.

Stokes said in March alone, when the libraries were closed for only a week, there was a 30 percent increase in downloaded materials of all kinds. She said there were some 400 items downloaded from Hoopla alone, meaning, overall, there were thousands of items downloaded over all the available services.

Stokes said book drops at both the Plumb and Huntington branches are closed, and staff is asking the public to keep their books and other materials until the libraries reopen.

“We will waive all fines incurred during the time we are closed,” said Stokes. “Any books or materials put on hold will be kept on hold until we reopen.”

Stokes said the library will remain in contact with patrons through the Shelton Libraries Facebook page and through a special email, SheltonLibraryQuestions@gmail.com.

“We will attempt to remotely answer reference questions, comments or concerns,” said Stokes. “No book donations will be accepted until after we reopen.”