By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Patrons across the country have been missing their favorite libraries since they were forced to close in March. However, as per usual, library staff has risen to the occasion and is providing an array of services and programs that people can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their own house. At the Dover Town Library (DTL), staff has been working tirelessly to ensure that their patrons know that they are still there for them, even though their doors are locked.
The DTL is usual one of the liveliest places in town. There is almost always a program going on, and at least a dozen people browsing the shelves at any given time - and their absence has definitely been felt. "Not being able to see our patrons!" reflects Young Adult Librarian Angie Howes. "One of my favorite parts of this job is interacting with the public on a daily basis, planning and implementing fun programs, and watching kids sing and dance at Super Awesome Fun Time. It has been hard to adjust to working from home, and the loneliness that comes with it."
Staff at the Dover Town Library, like any library existing in this tech-filled world, knows the perfect ways to stay connected with patrons during this town time. Along with using social media, staff started using the library's YouTube channel to share craft tutorials and their new story-time, "Super Awesome Fun Time at Home," a take on a library favorite. "For families, we hosted a Virtual Bingo Night, which was such a success that we plan on turning it into a recurring event! Coming soon, we will be hosting a live Pictionary game over Zoom as well. Every Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., library staff hosts a program called “Books & Beyond,” a social hour where anyone can log on to Zoom and talk about what they’re reading, watching, and doing during these crazy times," explains Howes. In addition, the library has hosted the first of a series of Zoom guest speakers that will continue during the upcoming weeks. For teens, Howes and her fellow librarians have organized trivia, Mario Kart tournaments, and a chocolate-cake-in-a-mug workshop with professional chef Julie Manning.
As the weeks go on, it's unsure whether summer programs will continue as normal for libraries. "Summer is one of the best times for the library, and it’s also when we roll out our summer reading programs. Children’s Librarian Nancy and I have been planning our 2020 summer reading programs since, well, last September, so this has been a real blow," says Howes. But as the dedicated librarians that they are, Howes and Children's Librarian Nancy Tegeler already have a contingency plan. "We have developed two online summer reading programs - one for kids and one for teens - that will take place whether the library is open, closed, or offering partial hours/services. The kids’ summer reading program will allow kids to log their summer reading online, and will reward all kids who read 20 hours or more with a yard sign to decorate their front lawn."
Patrons should firstly know that their favorite librarians are still here for them during this time. "We love hearing from you," says Howes. "And when we do reopen, we will be back and better than ever! Secondly, please don’t worry about accruing fines. We have extended all due dates to June 30, and will extend them again if need be, so there is no rush in getting your materials back. Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our community!"
So stay home, enjoy a book or a Zoom call, and wait a bit more. Soon, the library will be open again.