Last March we turned off the lights, shut down the computers, put the printers to sleep, shelved the last of the books, gathered the things we would need to continue doing our jobs, and then we locked the doors of the Lansing Library. The library then went digital. Zoom programs, digital books, Facebook live, and online content. I am a passionate proponent of the library as a community center and a pandemic closed the doors. I brought home a laptop, all of our STEAM kits, and a ukulele. I recorded programs in my living room, with my kids in the background, and had online meetings in my driveway.
Two months later, I reported back to work. Our department packed up our stuff and moved 60% of our collection upstairs in preparation for the youth department remodel. We then opened the library with limited services. The fish were not allowed visitors. We quarantined books. We sanitized everything. And our programming remained online. In November the youth department changed our programming to grab-and-go bags. We then went on to create 1500 bags over the course of six months. Kids were tired of computers and couldn’t wait to get their hands on a project that required no computer.
If we thought our world was upended, it was nothing compared to our kids. They were all issued laptops and sent home for the school year. Virtual classes, digital homework, no play dates, and they couldn’t even come see the fish at the library. Thankfully they still had access to a good portion of the library books. And kids, well kids are just fantastic! They did school virtually and they wore masks without complaint and they found different ways to connect with friends and family. Kids are resilient after all! When they did come to the library we could see their eyes light up with smiles as they picked out books to bring home. They would always ask about when the youth department would be done. And they wanted to know how the fish were doing.
When June hit we were able to finally unveil the newly renovated youth department. Some teens have actually shed tears of excitement at the new space! Our library families have been excited to be back and are enjoying the new space. Our summer programming, though a little different than normal, has been wonderfully attended. We’ve done everything from giant bubbles to sip and paints to story time to Self Care Saturdays all outside. And we’ll be ending our summer with an after hours, life size Candyland on July 30. The whole youth staff has given their all this summer.
We are so thankful for a community that is so supportive of our library. And we are so happy to see families back in the building, attending programs, checking out books, and enjoying the new space!
Head of Youth Services
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