Whitman County Library staff has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to continue providing great service for our patrons. At first, that meant we worked from home, but as soon as it was possible, we were back at the library. Face masks, hand sanitizer, thermometers and physical distancing became a part of our daily routine. Maintaining a safe workplace for staff and developing a reopening plan that met the same safety measures for our patrons became a top priority.
What did WCL staff do during the transition between closing in March until we reopened to the public? We called patrons to see how they were doing. We printed face shields for healthcare workers using our 3D printer and handed out masks. Both curbside service and books by mail kept patrons in reading materials and movies. Our staff also began browsing for you, pulling items in specific categories or by your favorite authors on request. Our popular summer reading programs moved online with activity bags available for curbside pick-up. Trivia Night returned on Thursday evenings, live on our Facebook page. We promoted the library’s electronic databases and resources through our website and social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, providing links and contact information for the community.
In late August, the library doors opened to the community and we were thrilled to see you! We began with shortened hours and limited patron time in the building. In September, after realizing how much people missed the library, we expanded our time limits for browsing and computer use at all 14 of our locations and increased our hours for the Colfax branch and The Center Book clubs, story times and other favorite programs like our Prime Time family reading program and Rosalia Bridge Days moved online. Grab-and-go storytime and STEM packets became a hit with families, while coloring and bookmark contests appealed to all ages across our branches. We reopened our Little Free Libraries in Colfax, Rosalia and Palouse, filled with reading material for all ages.
December brought care kits funded by the Innovia Foundation for kids, teens, adults and seniors that brought some much-needed stress relief for our patrons. The Center continued to display amazing artwork by local artists. There were community-decorated Christmas trees to vote on and a new exhibit from the Whitman County Historical Society featuring Cashup Davis. We had grab-and-go holiday projects, and Santa and Mrs. Claus even made an appearance for an online storytime that reached almost 50 local children. The popular Whitman County barn calendars arrived and, of course, we were busy checking out holiday movies, books and music CDs.
Enter 2021, and WCL is still working hard for you. We are continuing our newest services like curbside pick-up and browsing for you on request — but there is so much more.
Did you know you can check out a webcam or hotspot from the library to use at home? Each branch of WCL is also equipped with computer stations and free Wifi is available outside each building. Our online resources include downloadable e-books and audiobooks through the Anytime Library, video streaming with Kanopy, access to professional, self-paced courses covering career and business skills, marketing, design, photography and programming on Lynda.com,and other electronic resources including Consumer Reports, Mango Languages, A-Z Travel, and HeritageQuest.
Patrons can check out a ukulele and tuner, a birding backpack with identification books and binoculars, a Discover Pass that allows you free access to Washington State parks, or a fishing kit with poles and bait. We have STEM bags for science, technology, engineering, and math-curious children. In addition, WCL has a large collection of popular movies and documentaries on DVD, books on CD, music CDs, magazines and maps.
So make the most of your library in 2021! Join us for an online program, pick up an activity bag for your kids, ask us to browse for you, or just stop in and say hi. Visit us online at www.whitco.lib.wa.us for the latest information about our programs, services and hours. We’re here for you, and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Kathy Buchholtz is the technical services coordinator at Whitman County Library.