Library News: A very different Christmas under COVID restrictions


By Carole Howard
PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” That’s an inspirational observation from Dale Evans. For those readers too young to recognize her name, she was a radio star, actress, singer and songwriter who co-starred with her husband, singing cowboy Roy Rogers, in “The Roy Rogers Show” on TV and in many western movies. 

For most people in Archuleta County, this will be a highly unusual Christmas, as we forgo in-person celebratory gatherings with family and friends in the interest of everyone’s health and safety. 

In these difficult times, we hope you will be able to create new rituals to replace cherished traditions, and find new ways to get together using technology like Zoom and FaceTime or maybe masked and socially distanced outdoor visits on decks or driveways. 

In any case, we wish you a very happy holiday season. And we hope the arrival of the vaccine will bring us all an end to the fear and uncertainty that COVID has delivered.

Holiday closures

Your library will be closed today, Dec. 24, and tomorrow, Christmas Day, in celebration of Christmas, but curbside service will be available until noon today. We also will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, 2021, in celebration of New Year’s, but curbside service again will be available until noon on Thursday, New Year’s Eve.

Free COVID book for indigenous families

Thanks to an anonymous donor, copies of a new book titled “Our smallest warriors, our strongest medicine: Overcoming COVID-19” are available free at your library for indigenous families. 

The book is intended to be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher with a child or group of children. It is beautifully illustrated by Joelle Joyner, a freelance artist and powwow jingle dancer from Detroit.

The story features conversations between two young twins and their mother, who is a front-line nurse, as well as their grandmother, Grandfather Eagle and their friends, about how to keep themselves, family and friends safe from COVID. There also are several pages of helpful guidelines for adults to help make the book more relevant to their children.

To produce the book, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health convened a team of experts in child development and communications to take advantage of indigenous storytelling skills and traditions to portray a sense of communal strength and hope in the face of COVID-19. 

In addition to the free copies available to indigenous families, a copy has been added to our collection for everyone’s enjoyment. 

Library operations update

As a safety measure, your library staff has been split into separate smaller workgroups in an attempt to lower exposure and keep the library open should somebody test positive. Because of this, you may notice that occasionally service is a little slower than usual.

“Because libraries have been declared an essential service, we are very glad that we can continue serving our community’s needs while still keeping patrons and staff safe, said Meg Wempe, library director. “With circumstances changing quickly, though, we encourage you to email or call with any questions that you may have about our operations — and to keep up to date with state and county COVID guidelines.” 

Here is the current status at your library:

• We are limited to 15 patrons at a time plus staff in the building, since we must operate at only 25 percent capacity.

• We remain open on Thursdays from 1 to 7 p.m., with 1 to 2 p.m. reserved for seniors and higher-risk populations. 

• Other hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for seniors and higher-risk populations. Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays: closed.

• We are accepting meeting room reservations only for individuals or members of the same household, with library programs having first dibs on the rooms. You can schedule only so far out, usually two weeks to a month, depending on where we are in the month. 

• Hand sanitizers are available and there will be frequent cleanings inside the building throughout the day. Please practice social distancing and wear facial coverings while you are in the building. If you don’t have a mask, we are happy to give one to you. 

• Nine computers are available. In most cases, usage will be allowed for three hours per day. Staff will clean and disinfect the computers between uses.

• One early literacy computer is available for youngsters Monday through Saturday. 

• Curbside service continues Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. except for Thursdays, when it’s from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone 264-2209 when you are in the parking lot so staff can bring the items out for you. If you put a hold on something, please wait for your usual alert (email, phone call or text) before coming to pick it up. 

• You can drop your returns of books, CDs and DVDs in the drop box at City Market, as well as in the drop box at the library. No donations in the City Market box, please.

• Notary service is available on a very limited basis. Please call for an appointment. The cost is $5 per notary. 

• You can place holds on items from other libraries. They are in different stages of being open, so items may take longer than usual. 

• We’re happy to provide tech help in person or over the phone for our online resources.

Special note

“We want people to always feel welcome in the library, and to experience a very friendly vibe when they visit,” Wempe said. “But we need to remind everyone that, similar to other public indoor spaces in Colorado, we must follow the executive order that requires people ages 11 or older to wear a covering over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space. If you are unable or unwilling to wear a mask, we are pleased to assist you outside the building through our curbside service.”

Hot Chocolate Hullabaloo

Like so many other activities in our current COVID world, our annual holiday Hot Chocolate Hullabaloo has had to adapt — and move to your homes rather than take place at the library. We have free materials for crafts, activities and packets to make hot chocolate at the library for you to pick up until supplies run out. Have fun at home.

Knitting takeaways

We have added free knitting takeaways to our collection of crafts and activities you can pick up at the library entrance during open hours to take for your in-home enjoyment. We’ll have patterns craft ideas, instructions and some limited supplies available. 

New writing challenge

On Dec. 21, we posted a new writing challenge on the library’s Facebook page. We hope you will challenge your creativity by participating. This is a free all-ages activity.

Adult DIY: Holiday treats

You can access our food-themed DIY from Nov. 20 that will inspire you to create new appetizers and desserts for the holidays on the library’s website.

After-school program

In response to COVID, we have revamped our free after-school program into STEAM enrichment kits, STEAM standing for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, for ages 5 and up. Registration is required at 264-2209. Pick up your kit and then bring your completed projects back to the library to be displayed in the last week of the month.

DIY craft takeaway
for kids

Drop by your library for free DIY crafts takeaways for youngsters age 10 and older. Just pick up a packet outside the library and follow the instructions.

In-person gaming

Free in-person gaming is suspended due to COVID safety concerns. 

Storywalk for kids

Every other Thursday, Josie posts signs outside the library that follow the sidewalk up toward the elementary school detailing a new free Storywalk for kids. The Dec. 17-30 theme is writer friendships. After you finish the walk, pick up materials for a craft or activity at the library. 

Tech Time

Make a 15- or 30-minute appointment for one of three free in-person slots available noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Brad will help one person (or one couple) at a time. If you have a Tech Time appointment on Thursday, phone from the parking lot or knock loudly on the front door to be let in. 


Free in-person classes take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. by appointment. Please register so we can keep it to a small group in our limited open spaces. No walk-ins, please. 

Dungeons and Dragons 

Join us Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. for Dungeons and Dragons free for teens and young adults on Google Meet. Contact to learn how to join. If you don’t have Internet access, contact us anyway— we may be able to accommodate you in the library. 

Children’s programs on Facebook 

Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., join us on the library’s Facebook page for free children’s programs. Wednesday storytimes are on Facebook Live, so you can interact with Josie. Saturday’s Discovery Times — with games, art ideas, science experiments, history and more — are prerecorded. 

If you have a Facebook account, log in to Facebook and search for the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library. If you don’t have a Facebook account, access the page by visiting our website and clicking the Facebook icon (a lowercase f) in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Or, contact us and we can send you a direct link. 

Adult education 

Our free PALS (Pagosa Adult Learning Services) accelerated GED course takes place in person Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. Come to your library to get help from Mark with high school equivalency, GED, college prep, financial aid, tutoring and more. Appointments required; please contact us by phone or email. 

Activities calendars

To be sure you don’t miss any of the free activities available to you and your family at your library, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the events calendar each month. There are two versions — youth and adults.

Books on CD

“The Awakening” by Nora Roberts is book one of the new Dragon Heart Legacy series of adventure, romance and magic. “Piece of My Heart” by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke is the latest in the Under Suspicion mystery series. “Troubled Blood” by Robert Galbraith is the latest in the Cormoran Strike mystery series set in Cornwall. “A Warm Heart in Winter” by J.R. Ward is the latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. 

Mysteries, suspense and thrillers

“Daylight” by David Baldacci is an FBI agent Atlee Pine thriller. 

Other novels

“Perestroika in Paris” by Jane Smiley is a charming Christmas story of three extraordinary animals and a young boy.


“When Hope Calls” is season three.


“Unsinkable” by James Sullivan tells the stories of five brave men on the USS Plunkett, the famous Navy destroyer in World War II. 

Large print

“Dark Tides” by Philippa Gregory is book two in the Fairmile historical fiction series set in 17th century London and Venice. “The Awakening” by Nora Roberts is book one in the new Dragon Heart Legacy series.

Downloadable e-books and audiobooks 

We have a wide variety of downloadable e-books and downloadable audio books for patrons of all ages — children, tweens, teens and adults. Using cloudLibrary, you can download a book to read or an audio book to listen to. The items in cloudLibrary are purchased separately from physical items, so the books available are different — and it continues to use the consortium’s contributions, not just those that we bought. That is why you need to select AspenCat Union Catalog when setting up cloudLibrary for use. Please email or phone us at 264-2209 if you need our help setting up this service on your device. 


 For their generous monetary donations, we thank Constance D’Angelis, Lynnis Steinert, Stephanie Wagner and Carol Sheets. Please put your material donations into the drop box at the library — not at City Market, which is reserved for returns. Donations undergo the same rigorous three-day quarantine process as returns. 

 Quotable quote

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” — Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English writer and social critic in his classic novel “A Christmas Carol.”


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at