Parenting in a pandemic can be exhausting. Every parent out there has felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. If you are also trying to carry on work responsibilities from home, you have yet another layer. Add the additional pressure parents often feel during the holiday season of making everything perfect and families are understandably feeling stress. During this time, staying connected and sharing resources can help ease some of the pressure we may feel. Reach out if you need assistance. I hope you will consider the library a safe place for you to connect and find resources.

Like the rest of the world, the library has learned to adapt, transitioning to virtual programming and material curbside pickup almost overnight so that the library’s essential services could be available. We continue to adapt our programs to serve our members across the Palouse.

In response to feedback from families looking for screen-free activities, we created and gave away more than 1,200 grab and go activity bags in less than two months. This service includes our weekly storytime activity bags, biweekly STEAM bags, and our monthly teen bag. Activity bags pick-up is available during curbside hours, 1-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, while supplies last. We have seen an outpouring of excitement and support for this program, and we will continue to adjust and look for new ways to meet the need. If you have suggestions on how your library could better support you, please let us know.

Our priority is to offer the same level of service we always have at the library, even if remotely. One resource that is still available to the community is our reference assistance. Need resources for homework help? How to put books on hold? Need a library card? Want help doing research using a database? Looking for services on how to cope with mental health and stress-related issues? We can help. You can start by calling us at (509) 334-3595 or email library@neill-lib.org.

We are also excited to roll out a new way to connect with our patrons in 2021 by providing online reading challenges through the subscription Beanstack. Thanks to the generous support of the Friends of Neill Public Library, we will be able to offer year-round online reading challenges. Patrons will be able to register remotely, claim reading prizes and keep track of all the books they’ve read with an online reading log. Challenges will be available next year.

As we find ourselves amid the holiday season and in the middle of a pandemic, remember that it’s not about being perfect. More than anything, it’s about creating memories where your loved ones feel connected. Let’s let go of the Pinterest perfect holiday expectations and focus on taking care of ourselves and reaching out when we need to. We’re in a difficult time, but this presents opportunities to be kind to ourselves, letting go of perfectionism and acknowledging the good things we have. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is not to take moments of togetherness for granted. We’re looking forward to the new year. Happy reading.

Rachael Ritter is the youth services coordinator at Neill Public Library.

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