HYRUM – The Hyrum Library, like other community libraries in the valley, is closed to the public. They still find ways to keep busy and meet the needs of patrons, however. COVID-19 has taken its toll on community libraries and changed they way they serve the public.
“Things are crazy around here since we closed March 17,” said Emily Coltrin, library director. “We have cleaned all of our 60,000 books and when a book comes in, it is quarantined for 24 hours before we check them in and clean them and put it back on the shelf.”
She said patrons can put up to five books on hold, a receipt is printed so there is record of the transaction. Even though the staff of eight keeps busy, it’s not the same as the face-to-face contact.
“We have missed our patrons,” Coltrin said. “Opening the doors and letting them in is what we do. We miss seeing our patrons.”
Currently, they field phone calls from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We are hoping to open in June,” she said. “Things will be different, wearing a mask will be suggested; our wooden blocks and some other things will be put away.”
The pandemic may continue to change how the staff will interact with the public.
“Everyone said there will be a new normal,” Coltrin said. “I don’t like it.”
There will be some things library patrons can do at home. The summer reading program, for one, can be done online, using an app to track all of the reading.
“We open at 10 a.m. and take audio and regular books that have been put on hold in a big basket and put them on a table at the front door,” said Coltin. “We also put out a cart of free books when the weather is good.”
Programs like the popular children’s story time changed with the arrival of the pandemic. The library decided to carry on, using social media.
Mady Myers collaborated on producing a children’s reading time with Elizabeth Clemens, the library’s teen librarian and social media wizard at the library.
Clemens is working on a Master’s Degree in Library Science.
Instead of using a studio with lights, camera and microphone they use a quiet room, window light, and a tablet, then download it to social media.
Meyers, a senior at Utah State University studying Special Education, has been doing story time at the library for two years. She started working there her senior year of high school.
“The state library was doing story time online, they called it ‘Cabin Fever’ and we just followed what they did,” Myers said.
She said they usually have 10 people watching the story time live, but eventually has somewhere around 500 views.
“The state library shared one of ours once and it got over 600 views,” she said. “Most of the time we get a lot of likes on our (social media) page.”
Story time takes a break during the month of May, but it will start back up in June and July every other week.
“We will take break in August again, and hopefully in September we will get back to normal,” Myers said. “When we do it live in the library we have 15 to 20 kids in each of two sessions.”