New Services

Chat Reference

When our libraries closed to the public in March 2020, we knew we had to offer new ways for patrons to ask for the help they needed. We launched a chat reference service in May where a chat reference box was available on any page of RPL’s website and a librarian was available to assist patrons during business hours. Our chat reference librarians assisted 2,654 patrons in 2020!

Online programming:

  • Virtual playtimes hosted by the Toy Library
  • Crafts
  • Writing classes
  • Book discussions
  • Storytimes, including bilingual
  • Virtual Chess Club and instruction
  • Local History lectures
  • Genealogy classes
  • TASC/ESL instruction


Several RPL sites hosted Learning Pods led by ROC City Learning Pods and funded by the Rochester Area Community Foundation-located at Charlotte, Lincoln, Lyell and Wheatley Branches.


  • For ages 4-12
  • Free of cost for all families
  • Breakfast, lunch, and snack provided
  • Academic and social emotional support provided
  • Experienced educators on staff
  • Small class size, 12 student maximum


RPL instituted safe curbside pick up services that were not just books:

  • Take & Make activity bags
  • Back-to-school packs
  • Foodlink mobile food truck
  • Food pantry distribution
  • Themed book bundles
  • Craft kits

New Technology Center

The Central Library’s Technology Center construction was completed In July and in August we opened to the public, providing vitally needed access to computer and printing. When COVID restrictions are lifted, the Technology Center will offer access to its full suite of equipment and services, including Apple computers with the Adobe Creative Cloud, a large format scanner and printer, technologically sophisticated meeting room and classroom environments, and over 40 computers. The Technology Center is committed to helping patrons navigate the technologies needed to meet their goals, including for those of the Spanish language community.


When patrons were unable to come to the library, RPL staff increased outreach efforts in the community by using our Books By Bike carts, attending outdoor community events and providing outdoor programs like storytimes.

Annual Report Highlights