Library News: Stats show library flourishing even in COVID times

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By Carole Howard
PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff

Annually, at this time of year, Meg Wempe, library director, prepares an annual report for the library’s board of trustees summarizing the highlights of the past year. The information also is used when your library applies for grants and it is required to be shared with state, county and town governments to keep them informed. 

Of course, 2020 was not a normal year. COVID-19 demonstrated the need for organizations to be nimble, flexible and adaptive as closure mandates and restrictions on operations were required to keep everyone safe.

Your library staff demonstrated an impressive talent for reimagining and rethinking services to our patrons. When the library had to close, and later operate at reduced capacity, staff took advantage of technology to arrange virtual programs like Zoom for book clubs for adults, Facebook Live for family storytimes, and Google Meet for Dungeons and Dragon for teens. They established curbside pickup to keep books, CDs and DVDs in circulation. And they arranged small, by-appointment-only sessions for programs Tech Time, GED and ESL because face-to-face was required. 

Here are more details about the 2020 operations. You can pick up a shorter infographic version at your library. 

• The COVID effect: Not surprisingly under COVID conditions, in 2020 our patrons downloaded 7,440 e-books and e-audio books, more than 60 percent over last year, and logged 2,071 sessions on our electronic databases, a whopping 96 percent increase. 

• Major objectives achieved: Last year’s income exceeded expenses, the HVAC system was replaced, we began to update our strategic plan, we started to update our operations and procedures manual, and we moved reserve funds to COLOTrust for investing. 

• Resource sharing: AspenCat allows our patrons access not only to the 28,072 items in our collection, but also to more than 1.5 million items in the other 122 AspenCat libraries. The Colorado Library Consortium courier service provides daily delivery to subscribing libraries throughout the state. 

In 2020, we borrowed 6,745 items and loaned 1,981 items. By taking advantage of the purchasing power of the State Library and Colorado Library Consortium, we subscribed to multiple educational databases, including EBSCOHost, Learning Express and the Encyclopedia Britannica, at substantial savings and subscribed to ShoutBomb for text messaging to our patrons about holds and overdue items. 

• Collection development: Providing our patrons with materials that are current and relevant to the diverse interests of the community is one of our principal goals. We have 28,072 total items in our collection. In 2020 we added 2,926, including 162 from donations, and deleted 8,156 worn or outdated items. Our materials budget for 2021 is $64,500 or 11.5 percent of our total expenses. 

• Usage stats: 35,186 patrons walked through our doors last year, down about half from last year because of COVID restrictions. We checked out 63,942 items, a decrease of 36 percent from 2019, again lower because of COVID. We welcomed 25,732 website visits. 

• Programming: Providing programs for all ages is a very high priority. With COVID, our programming dramatically changed. We increased the number of virtual programs, began take-and-make programs and limited in-person programs by appointment. Our programming budget for 2020 is 1.2 percent of our total expenses.

• Donations, grants and volunteers: We are very fortunate to have the ongoing support of the community. In 2020, we received $24,237 in donations and $34,749 in grants, 9 percent of our total revenue. Our volunteers contributed 1,000 hours, valued at $27,200.

• Continuing education: To continue to provide our community with the best possible service, several of our staff attended a variety of educational and networking opportunities last year, many via webinars to avoid travel. We also hosted two staff education days.

Spotlight on
board books today

Board books are fun and unique. They are created to be sturdy, attractive learning tools — and often they are both a toy and a book. Learn more by watching a video or joining the all-ages Board Book Reading Challenge today, Thursday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m. on the library’s Facebook page.

Adult DIY on Facebook tomorrow

Beginning tomorrow, Feb. 19, from 2 to 3 p.m., a video tutorial plus supplies and instructions for pickup at your library are available to help you make long-lasting paper plants like cacti and other succulents to brighten your home. 

T-shirt design contest

We’d love your help in designing a T-shirt for this year’s Summer Reading Program. The theme will be “Tails and Tales.” This is an all-ages contest. All designs must be original. The winning T-shirt will be worn by staff during the summer, given to the winning designer, and a limited number will be available for purchase. For details and a blank T-shirt template, pick up a flyer at the library or go online to our website. The deadline for submissions is March 8.

Free literacy program
for babies

A free Colorado-based literacy program that helps families and caregivers build their babies’ vocabulary is now underway in Archuleta County, thanks to a partnership involving your library, AmeriCorps and the San Juan BOCES.

You need to sign up for this special program, called LENA, in order to be enrolled in the workshops that will provide you with personalized information and ideas to help your child. Please contact Michelle Salmeron-Ramierez at 585-4293 or michelle@unitedway-swco.org. 

The program, available in English and Spanish, was created for babies from newborn to age 3.

Online Spanish
conversation

Next Monday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 5 p.m., our online Spanish conversation group will gather on Google Meet to practice skills together. You can access the meeting using the Google Meet app or by visiting meet.google.com/xrv-esre-kav — and contact Brad at the library if you have questions about using Google Meet. 

New all-ages writing challenge

On Feb. 22, we will post 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.

Storywalk for kids

Weather permitting, 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 current theme is celebrating Valentine’s Day and love of all kinds. After you finish the walk, pick up materials for a craft or activity at the library. 

Knitting takeaways

Pick up free knitting takeaways 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. 

Calling all teens 

If you enjoy reading books, learning new skills and helping your community, we hope sixth- through 12th-graders will sign up to volunteer at your library. You’ll write book reviews, make artwork for the teen area, help plan new programs, judge our pumpkin-decorating contest, prepare crafts for kids’ programs and help keep the library organized. Please stop by the library or apply online.

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 during open hours. Pick up a packet outside the library.

Tech Time

Make a 15- to 30-minute appointment for one of three free in-person slots available noon to 1 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Brad will help one person (or one couple) at a time resolve issues with your computer, smartphone, tablet and other electronic devices. 

ESL

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 

Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., Dungeons and Dragons is free for teens and young adults on Google Meet. Contact claire@pagosalibrary.org 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. 

Adult education 

Our free PALS (Pagosa Adult Learning Services) sessions take place in person, where Mark helps with high school equivalency, GED, college prep, financial aid, tutoring and more. Contact the library and Mark will work with you to schedule a date and time to meet.

Library operations update

 Here is the current status under COVID Level Blue: 

• 30 patrons may be in the building at a time. 

• Open 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 to 10 a.m. for seniors and higher-risk populations. Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays: closed.

• Accepting meeting room reservations only for individuals or members of the same household, with library programs having first dibs on the rooms. 

• 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. 

• Ten computers are available. 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 place holds on items from other libraries. They are in different stages of 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 remind everyone that, similar to other public indoor spaces in Colorado, we must follow the executive order that requires people age 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.”

Nonfiction

“First Platoon” by Annie Jacobsen exposes government secrets in the age of biometrics databases. “The Princess Spy” by Larry Loftis is the true story of an American World War II spy who becomes a countess. “Crossing the Line” by Kareem Rosser documents the author’s path to becoming part of the first all-Black national interscholastic polo championship team. “Do Better” by spiritual activist Rachel Ricketts is a guide to dismantling white supremacy. “Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life” by Eric Metaxas is a poetic memoir of a man who always felt he did not fit in.

Mysteries and thrillers

“Three Hours in Paris” by Cara Black features a rural Oregon woman who takes on Hitler. “Shiver” by Allie Reynolds focuses on a reunion weekend in the snowy French Alps. “The Residence” by Andrew Pyper follows President Franklin Pierce and his wife’s unusual grieving in the White House after their son’s death. “The Distant Dead” by Heather Young begins with the death of a quiet, small-town math teacher.

Other novels

“Pale” by Edward A. Farmer follows the lives of white plantation owners and Black cotton pickers in the summer of 1966. “Nick” by Michael Farris Smith features narrator Nick Carraway’s life before Gatsby and West Egg going back to the trenches of World War I. 

Books on CD

“Robert Ludlum’s The Treadstone Exile” by Joshua Hood is the second novel in the Treadstone ops series. “Faithless in Death” by J.D. Robb is a new Eve Dallas police thriller. “The Unwilling” by John Hart features a man trying to escape the violent fallout from three tours in Vietnam. 

Downloadable e-books and audiobooks 

We have a wide variety of downloadable e-books and audio books for all ages — children, tweens, teens and adults — in cloudLibrary. These items are purchased separately from physical items, so the books available are different — and it continues to use the consortium’s contributions as well as 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. 

Donations 

For their generous monetary donation, we thank Susan and Terry Arrington. 

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

“There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” — Italian actress Sophia Loren. 

Website

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 pagosalibrary.org.