EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE

Libraries aren’t supposed to be too quiet. But in the age of Covid … 

“We were not a quiet library. It’s disturbingly quiet now,” said Nick Caum, Youth and Community Services Librarian at the Creswell Library.

“I miss the teens a lot,” said Lane Library District Director Su Liudahl. “We had this group of teens who came in and played board games every day. They were so much fun! Sometimes they’d get a little rowdy and loud, and now they have their own room, and it’s just sitting empty. It’s really kind of heartbreaking.

“We had just gone through this expansion project when Covid hit. We have this nice new space and suddenly we had to close everybody out of it. … We’re looking forward to having people back in.”

After roughly 15 months of Covid restrictions, the Creswell Library is reopening to the public, starting with browsing appointments (541-895-3053). Computers also are available by appointment and wi-fi is still free in the parking lot. On the first Saturday of each month there’s a Cars & Coffee program that runs through October.

Also, library staff will visit the Clubhouse at the Cobalt Activity Center. 

And, of course, there’s the Summer Reading Program. All kids under 18 who sign up get a free book, and they can track their reading hours for a chance to win prizes. 

“When Covid hit, we closed when everyone else did,” Liudahl said. “March 14 was the last day we were open, then the next week we started doing curbside service one day a week, then we shifted to three days a week, and now it’s available six days a week.

Creswell librarians Nick Caurn (left) and Su Liudahl.

“It’s been challenging, though, because we’re used to dealing with people in-person and being able to say yes to just about everything, and there were so many things we couldn’t do – we couldn’t provide computer access, we couldn’t have our regular programs. Nick did a great job of setting up virtual programming for the kids – he’s done cooking classes, he’s got three different book clubs going, storytimes done virtually – we’ve done a lot to meet the needs, but it doesn’t feed us the way it does actually being with people or having that interaction; that is what we’re into … we really miss that, it’s been hard just talking to a computer screen or carrying out a bag of books with your masks all on.” 

“If I’m trying to run a virtual program, I can’t help you,” Caum said. “If you’re struggling with a specific step, I don’t have an option, there’s no way for me to get over there and be hands-on with them. I just have to say I’m so sorry, you’re on a computer screen. Which is not optimal, to say the least. Especially when we’re baking, and I’m trying to see what’s in their bowl. I’m showing them my bowl, and we’re not gonna get there. But we had a blast.”

Caum is hoping for a strong turnout for the Summer Reading Program. 

There are five book levels to choose from online; after signing up, stop by the library to pick up your new book. Track your reading hours over the summer, and everyone who submits their hours is eligible for a prize. Take-home activity kits include a robot and elephant toothpaste. The plan is to continue the tradition of tie-dye in the park as they celebrate this year’s theme, “Color Your World.”

The summer reading initiative is part of a nationwide program.

“They give you a nice resource kit that goes with it, but the real value is having so many other librarians working with the same ideas, and we can all share what we’re doing. That’s way more helpful than having a resource kit put out by an organization,” Caum said. “Because if I’m working on my summer program and Fern Ridge is doing something entirely different, we can’t really share those ideas. So we can all get together and come up with some awesome stuff for kids to do.”

“One of the best things about librarians is they love sharing stuff just out of the goodness of their hearts,” Liudahl said. “We all like to give stuff away and share and make things free. It’s just what we do. We’re thrilled if somebody else takes our idea.

“We are a little bit competitive. We all compare our numbers, how many hours your kids read in this town, compared to how the other ones do, but that’s fun, it’s good-natured.”