The Clatskanie Library District has been closed since March 16 because of COVID-19, but the library operators have found creative ways to continue services despite the pandemic.
Located at 11 Lillich Street in Clatskanie, the 2,500 square foot building has been closed to the public since March 16. Not even book returns have been allowed, with the book drop slot taped shut, according to Clatskanie Library District Interim Library Director Becky White.
Throughout most of the closure, there have only been two library staff members working, former library director Elizabeth Kruse and White, until Kruse retired at the end of June.
Since then, the facility has hired one full-time clerk, Melanie Simmons and one part-time clerk, Terrie Neubauer. They, along with interim director White have been serving the public in a myriad of ways even though the building itself is closed.
Services now available
Avid readers in the community can still pick up books from the library. Starting June 1, patrons have been allowed to place holds online and pick up physical copies of their books. Patrons can browse the library’s card catalogue online at www.clatskanielibrary.org. The website leads to a portal to the card catalogue as well as a portal to the e-book library.
Once they’ve received the order, library staff call patrons ahead of time to inform them that their books are ready and available to pick up. Patrons can pick up their books from noon to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday outside the library.
According to White, the library will begin public computer use on Monday by appointment. Appointments will be very limited, at 30 minutes per person. Fax and copy services will also be made available by appointment only, which will involve library staff completing the fax or copying for the patron and taking the finished material out to the patron when completed, White said. There will be a modified fee system for the service, according to White.
Library programs go virtual
Summer is also usually a time for the library to have special programs, like the kids’ and teens’ summer reading programs, which usually last six to eight weeks, White said. Wednesdays at 1 p.m. is the kids’ summer reading program. The teen program, which is new this year, is Friday nights around 8 p.m. Both of them are being hosted via zoom webinars, White said.
Zoom is a communications technology company that enables users to speak to each other in real time via video. It is also the reason why the teen summer reading program was able to exist this year, White said.
Both programs revolve around the theme of “imagine your story” and feature concepts from fairy tales to mythology to fantasy, according to White.
The teen summer reading program is a combination of watching movies together and reading books, White said.
There have also been presentations and activities, such as a virtual Magic the Gathering night, and a virtual Dungeons and Dragons night which is happening this Friday.
On Friday, July 31, the club will be doing a Harry Potter themed night called “What did Hedwig Eat?” where participants will be dissecting owl pellets through Zoom, under the guidance of White.
“We’re hoping to have a presentation or guest speaker from someone from North Coast Wildlife Rehab. Participants can get owl pellets from the library ahead of time during curbside pickup hours,” White said. White got them from a science company which specifically deals with owl pellets and makes owl brand discovery kits.
One of the positives to having virtual book club sessions rather than in-person ones is that it enables White to have guest speakers she otherwise would not have been able to have. One of those guest speakers was a presenter from North Carolina, Katherine Leslie, who was the author of a bilingual children’s book, Gracie. The book, written in English, was translated into Spanish, French and German.
“The reason we had them read it is because it won an award for best bilingual children’s book,” White said. “It was wonderful. It was very fun. She was able to read her story and take kids through the process of imagining a story board.”
There have also been presentations from puppeteers, from a traveling theater company on Greek mythology, and from Wolf Haven, which looks after wolves in the wild, and did a presentation on how wolves are important to nature, White said. There is also an upcoming presentation from a local Salish tribal elder who lives in Clatskanie, Scott MacGregor, according to White.
All of these presentations have been made possible by an approximately $2,000 grant from the Columbia County Cultural Coalition, and the ability to host on Zoom, White said.
At the end of the summer reading program, White said she hopes to have a socially distanced costume parade at Copes Park, where participant will receive goody bags and certificates. Participants will be invited to dress as their favorite fantasy, fairy tale or mythology character, White said.
Overall, watching movies together has enabled the kids to still connect with each other, even though they’re socially distancing, White said.
“We turn off our microphones so we’re not talking, but they’re able to chat with each other during the movie. It’s like getting together and watching a movie with your friends. That’s our goal, to help these kids connect with each other in a way that’s safe,” White said.
While the library has been closed, work has been done on the inside of the library, with a special air cleaning system installed, a thorough cleaning of the ventilation system conducted, the library software upgraded, and loads of new books have been catalogued, White said.
“We obtained 96 new children’s books in April, as a grant from The Pilcrow Foundation and Friends of the Library,” White said.
When the library does reopen, staff and patrons will be required to wear masks, White said.
All fines are waived for the moment.
Overall, it will be a slow process, according to White.
“Given that numbers are rising pretty dramatically, we feel comfortable moving slowly,” White said.
The Clatskanie Library District is located at 11 Lillich Street in Clatskanie. To reach the library, call 503-728-3732.