The 19 Prince George’s County libraries have been closed since the coronavirus pandemic hit the jurisdiction last March, but programs and activities have still been going on.

The county’s library system has produced and conducted more than 1,000 virtual programs and organized 37,000 curbside appointments for residents to pick up books.

“It is a struggle, but we are having a good time,” said Roberta Phillips, CEO of the library system. “Our team at PGCMLS has really risen to this occasion.”

This year marks the first-time libraries will exclusively host virtual programs for Black History Month that can be viewed at https://ww1.pgcmls.info/black-heritage.

Three major events for adults in February will feature the following:

– 7 p.m. Feb. 9: Jemar Tisby, an award-winning author of the book “The Color of Compromise,” will discuss how to fight racism.
– 7 p.m. Feb. 11: Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author to discuss Black voter engagement.
– 7 p.m. Feb. 17: Anna Malaika Tubbs, a scholar will talk about her first book entitled “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.”

Virtual programming will also be available for children this month such as storytime every Saturday for those ages 5 to 8 from 10:30-11 a.m. and ages 9 to 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. This will be in partnership with school board member Belinda Queen.

“Even though the buildings are closed, the library continues to do a lot of things,” Queen said. “So many partnerships are being done for kids.”

One of those collaborations involves a winter reading challenge through March 31 with the Washington Wizards.

The team selects a book of the month for students in three grade groups: kindergarten through second, third through fifth and sixth through eighth.

When students are done, they enter a raffle with a chance to win a Wizards jersey, junior camp voucher, a bobblehead and other prizes.

In the meantime, Phillips said library staff continues answering phones, oversee virtual programs and help find thousands of books for customers at each branch from Laurel to Oxon Hill.

Residents can request a book to pick up at www.pgcmls.info/curbside, or call 240-455-5451.

It remains unclear when the library doors would reopen, especially with Prince George’s continuing to record the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland.

The county remains in phase one of the vaccination rollout that includes adults 65 and older, health care workers, educators, grocery store and postal service workers.

Phillips said the library system will work with the county’s health department to assess when library staff could receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

When doors reopen, Phillips said one goal would be to boost computer access for students and adults.

“We know that digital divide is really out there The quicker we can get vaccinated, the quicker we can help the public in a more robust way,” she said. “We just want to move forward when we know that people will be safe.”

For more information about the library system and what it offers, go to www.pgcmls.info.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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