March 26, 2020

BAPL Goes Online: Favorite and New Services Now Available From Home

For many of us, there is no greater feeling than browsing bookshelves–running your finger along the spines, feeling the inspiration, searching for your next great read among your fellow seekers. But we can’t get to the library these days; the Pennsylvania Department of Education closed all public libraries in the state until at least April 6. So libraries are going online!

Of course offering electronic resources is nothing new to the modern public library, but the current required isolation is inspiring new heights in remote resource offering. The Bethlehem Area Public Library is just as committed as ever to serving the community. Key among their offerings are:

  1. It is easier than ever to get a library card online. “I want to see as many people as possible in the community have a library card by the end of this,” Executive Director Josh Berk says. “Just go to, fill out the form, and we’ll email you a library card number you can use immediately to start borrowing e-books, audiobooks, and streaming free movies through the library’s platform. There are genealogy tools, databases, and all sorts of neat things for research,” Berk says. “We’ve already issued a ton of cards this week and we’d like nothing more than to send out a ton more.”

  1. You can get your reference questions answered via email. Looking for a great online resource for kids learning at home? Curious about the history of your house, or your great-great grandparents growing up in Bethlehem? Does your toddler have a strange science question like “what if everyone on Earth jumped at once?” We’ll take them all — just email

  1. Join in BAPL’s Spirit Week Scavenger Hunt! What’s that, you ask? It’s a social media activity where we share at-home challenges each day starting March 30. You might be asked to take a picture of a BAPL t-shirt or build something out of Lego. Maybe we’ll ask you to share the name of the e-book you’re reading or a DIY project you’ve completed. Fun stuff for all ages! There are prizes to be had at the end of the week just for playing along.

    “It was inspired by an online scavenger hunt that the Cancer Support Community of the Great Lehigh Valley created,” says BAPL’s Libby Ortiz. “The concept is that [this type of activity] helps boost mental health, can help our patrons stay healthy and sane,” she says. “In these trying times, we need to practice social distancing, but stay together.”

  1. Meet an author without leaving the couch! BAPL is known for its excellent author events and the library is now bringing these events to you through social media. The first one was March 25 as Bethlehem author (and BAPL’s own) Kate Racculia read from her latest novel, TUESDAY MOONEY TALKS TO GHOSTS. Stream from anywhere! We will have other authors joining us in the weeks to come, including Matt Wolf, Joyce Hinnefeld and Stephanie Powell Watts.

  1. Take a class without leaving the house! BAPL will soon be offering streaming versions of its popular yoga and Qijong (movement meditation) classes. Librarians are teaching their own online classes as well — up first is Brenda Grow sharing her famous cheesecake recipes! Follow us on social media for dates and times.

Take care of yourselves, and others. And don’t stop learning, exploring, and making connections. Visit and the library’s social media pages for all the latest news and programs: