Riddle Library
Photo by Katelyn Buxton

Douglas County libraries continue to offer services to patrons and students despite pandemic

Libraries are adjusting services to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the county’s library patrons can no longer come in to check out books, use the computers, or attend any of the other community-centered events that take place there, Douglas County libraries have become more creative in the way they offer their services.

Some have transitioned children’s story-time to an online format, while others have extended access to eBooks through their online library catalog. Some offer curbside checkout services so patrons can pick books they reserved online. Six of the county’s libraries explain their current and summer services.

Sue Shaffer Learning Commons and Library: UCC, Roseburg, Oregon

The UCC library continues to offer online services to help students even though they have been physically closed since late March. The Ask-A-Librarian service allows students to directly contact UCC librarians for help researching for assignments, or to ask questions by phone or Zoom. This service is offered Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., but students may also email the UCC librarians at any time of day or night. Replies are given as soon as possible.

Carol McGeehon
Photo provided by Carol McGeehon

“Our virtual library collection consists of 103 databases including streaming video, along with over 200,000 eBooks with multi-user licenses along with thousands of full text articles for use,” says Carol McGeehon, the director of library and learning services. To access these services, students can go to the library’s website. Because the number of databases can be overwhelming, the UCC library also provides research guides on the library home page to help students get started.

The UCC library’s Success Center is also continuing to offer virtual study groups and drop-in tutoring. Students can go to the Success Center home page on the college’s website to register or contact Mary Worthington for more information.

Although the UCC library will remain closed through the summer, most of their services will still be available. “Not sure if we have information on a specific topic? All you have to do is ask! We are ready to help,” McGeehon says.

Roseburg Public Library: Roseburg, Oregon

Kris Wiley
Photo provided by Kris Wiley

Since March 26, the Roseburg Public Library has offered a weekly drive-up pickup service for physical materials. They have also expanded their online collections and moved some of their events to social media. “Youth Services Librarian Aurora Oberg manages a daily Facebook post especially for youth and families,” says Kris Wiley, the library director, “and library aide Mark Breckenridge has transitioned his Musical Storytime to a video that is posted on Facebook. I hosted a virtual book group on Zoom this month, and I’m planning another one for June.”

Library staff are also available to answer questions or place holds on materials. To do so, patrons can call 541-492-7050, or email library@cityofroseburg.org. The Roseburg Public Library does not have a date for reopening set, but they have begun making plans for moving forward when that time comes.

“The Summer Reading Program for all ages will proceed in a modified version, and we currently are working out details,” Wiley says. “For youth, there will be a log, and participants who submit short book reviews will be eligible to win prizes. Expect online story-times with Aurora and grab-and-go craft kits for children and teens.” Wiley also hopes to hold programs in the city’s parks.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is another resource that Wiley recommends. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Roseburg Public Library in the following zip codes: 97443, 97447, 97470, 97471, 97494 and 97495. Children can receive one free age-appropriate book, eligible for children from birth through age five. “Register at imaginationlibrary.com,” Wiley says. “Those who live outside the area should contact their local public library; there are Imagination Library service areas throughout Douglas County and the state.”

Friends of Myrtle Creek Library: Myrtle Creek, Oregon

Although the Friends of Myrtle Creek Library closed its doors to the public on March 16, they have continued to offer curbside checkout services to their community. Patrons may reserve a book by phone or the library’s online catalog and pick it up outside the library on Monday and Thursday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m.

The library has also expanded their online collection which can be accessed on the library’s catalog, and is making plans for the summer reading program that includes kids, teens, and adults. “The kid’s summer reading program will be digital this year,” says Julienne DeMarsh, the treasurer for the Friends of Myrtle Creek Library. The program will run for a total of eight weeks, beginning on June 15. When a schedule is finalized, it will be posted on the library’s website.

“We’re still here!” DeMarsh says. “We’re making plans to open safely, for both patrons and volunteers.”

Mildred Whipple Library: Drain, Oregon

Miriam Sisson
Photo provided by Miriam Sisson

The Mildred Whipple Library closed its doors to the public in mid-March, but district librarian Miriam Sisson says that they have ramped up the library’s virtual offerings, as well as their social media and internet presence. “Specifically, we started advertising our library’s access to Overdrive’s Libby app with more than 50,000 eBooks and audiobooks. Through the generosity of the Ford Family Foundation we also purchased 12 e-readers for checkout and dozens of books to fill them.” Patrons can access these resources by signing up for a virtual library card on the library’s website.

Sisson also acknowledges that many community members may lack ready access to internet at home. “That same grant allowed us to purchase hot spots to check out; we are waiting on those to arrive.” The Mildred Whipple Library staff also put together craft kits and activity bags distributed at local food pantries for families to pick up.

The library is making plans for the summer reading program, but it will look a little different this year. “Instead of performers and picnics and large gatherings, we will be focusing on some story walks and reading prizes from local merchants,” Sisson says.

Oakland Public Library: Oakland, Oregon

Rachael Grindberg
Photo provided by Rachael Grindberg

The Oakland Public Library has also temporarily closed due to the pandemic, however, library clerk Rachael Grindberg says that the library still offers grab bags of books outside of the library. “These books are bagged by volunteers who are wearing gloves and masks,” Grindberg says. “Patrons are free to come and pick up a book or two. We restock them when the bags are mostly gone.”

Grindberg has moved story-time online to the library’s Facebook page, and is grateful that the feedback has been so positive. “I’m glad that I’m able to bring a little joy to people in this trying time,” Grindberg says.

The Oakland Public Library is also looking at summer reading program activities that can be done online, since they are unsure of when they will be reopening. “It is exciting to see the impact our programs make on the community. I believe they are an important part of the patrons’ summer,” Grindberg says.

For parents seeking distance learning resources, Grindberg points to the Oakland School District website, which has activity ideas for children of all ages.

Riddle City Library: Riddle, Oregon

Rita Radford
Photo by Katelyn Buxton

For the Riddle City Library, closing has meant expanding their online book collections. “We’ve added World Book Online, TumbleMath which is math picture books, TeenBookCloud which is a grades seven through 12 eBook database, AudioBookCloud, TumbleBooks, and Romance Book Cloud,” says Rita Radford, the director of library services. These can be accessed by going to the library’s catalog, which covers fiction and nonfiction for all ages. The Riddle City Library has also moved the weekly story-time to Facebook, as well as posting other activity ideas on social media.

In addition to expanding their online offerings, the Riddle City Library has continued to add to their physical collection. “I’m excited that we have new best-sellers in our fiction section,” Radford says. Some of the authors of the new books are David Baldacci, Karen Kingsbury, Stephen King and James Patterson. The library has also added books on gardening, orchards, farming, and seed-saving to help patrons who have started gardening during social distancing. Patrons can place a reserve by going to the Riddle City Library’s catalog, or by calling 541-874-2070. Books can then be picked up outside the library between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

The Riddle City Library is also planning to proceed with a modified summer program for children through adults, with events like Mandala rock painting for adults. Teens can enter a competition with a 60-second or less announcement video with their interpretation of the summer reading program theme “Imagine Your Story.”

“For children we’ll be sending home schedules with public school materials, and the children will be encouraged to come to the outside of the library and pick up their bags with goodies in them like reading logs and trinkets,” says Radford. There will be other outside events where social distancing can be maintained, and when the schedule is finalized it will be posted on the library’s website.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to some summer fun at the library!” Radford says.

Video by Katelyn Buxton

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