COOS COUNTY — After months of planning and preparation, the North Bend Public Library had its summer programs almost all ready to go. But these pre-COVID-19 plans were drastically forced to change.
“Well, we had to adjust about 180 degrees,” said Teresa Lucas, assistant director at North Bend Public Library. “Our programs were just about completed. We were in the process of fine-tuning our plans when all of this happened. As you know this happened in March, towards the end of March, and at that point libraries usually have pretty much everything set for what they’re going to do for the summer.”
During the summer, the North Bend Public Library, much like the other eight libraries in the Coastline Libraries that serve Coos County, is full of activities.
“We usually have between 300 and 400 people coming in our doors every single day during the summer during non-COVID. We have programs every single day of the week,” said Lucas. “We have programs for babies, toddlers, children, teens and adults. So that covers almost every single day of the week.”
As libraries across the county look to open back up in a limited capacity with shortened hours of operation, the programs that make the summer go have shifted to online settings. In North Bend this has meant an online summer reading program and a YouTube channel that has books read out loud and puppet shows for kids, in addition to discussions for adults.
The summer reading program for teenagers includes arts and crafts and caps off the summer with a time capsule. Lucas will have a time capsule of her own to mark the pandemic.
“We’re going to put all the positive things that happened during these three months because our patrons are amazing and they understand .... And they’re willing to go the extra mile because they know we’re going to go the extra mile,” she said.
At the Coos Bay Public Library, it’s a similar story of working to connect with patrons in an online setting.
“Prior to COVID we had not done any programs online. Everything has been adjusted to the current circumstances that we’re in. So we’re doing what we can to still reach out to the community and still interact with everybody,” said Christina Coffman of Coos Bay Public Library.
The calendar is now full of online story time for kids, a book club for adults and even a community cooking event in partnership with Coos Head Food Co-op. These programs, in addition to summer reading, have been an opportunity to continue to connect with the community.
“We’ve found a way to still communicate and still reach out to our community, just in a different format,” said Coffman.
At the Dora Public Library, one of the smaller branches of the Coastline Libraries, getting people online has been one of the hurdles.
“They’ve been having a difficult time not getting together,” said director Betty Vaughn of an adult book club. “I’ve offered some virtual meetings for them but can’t see them to get them all wanting to participate.”
In Dora the library has served as one of the few places to be in town while also boasting a high-speed broadband connection that is not available at residential addresses. The library is now allowing up to five people in at one time and working to make sure families are aware of the summer reading program that includes a backpack with four to six books in it for kids.
“We’re kind of far out here, we don’t have a lot of children in our area but we want to make them have a good summer,” said Vaughn. “At least something to keep them going.”