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COVID-19 sparks library outreach

Truckee Library launches Winter programming

The Winter Reading Challenge is just one way Nevada County Library patrons may entertain themselves this quarantined holiday season.

Amid growing infections during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Truckee Library continues to offer comprehensive programming and community engagement.

Truckee Librarian Piret Griffith said the Nevada County Library Winter Reading Challenge promotes learning and is fun for all ages. The adults’ challenge began Tuesday, Dec. 15, and the kids and teens challenge will start Monday, Dec. 21.



Once participants complete their online registration, county librarians will coordinate curbside pickup of a related activity grab bag, Griffith explained. Inside, there is a $5 gift card to Word After Word Books and a County Land game board drawn by a youth services librarian at the Grass Valley branch.

Participants will color in the path to reflect their daily reading accomplishments and log their minutes on a smartphone app called READsquared.



The challenge requires children and teens to read for 10 minutes a day. Adults must read 30 minutes a week to meet the 200 minute minimum total by the end of the challenge on Jan. 31.

Griffith said participants in the challenge will be eligible for weekly, age-appropriate prizes suitable to a “cozy quarantine” — board games.

This challenge is just one part of the library’s robust programming in 2020.

COMMUNITY CENTER

Griffith said the library has explored many new ways to extend itself into the homes of a community under a shelter-in-place order. The use of technology and collaboration with other institutions in North Lake Tahoe reflects the library’s general identity shift toward a community center.

Griffith said the library offers curbside services from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, so patrons are still able to get books and other materials.

On one hand, literature offers a “nice kind of escape for people” amid the pandemic, Griffith said. The entertainment factor has hardly been the only draw to the library since the pandemic began.

Griffith said aside from offering patrons ways to avoid fixating on the perils — economic and otherwise — of COVID-19, the library has coordinated with parents to support online learning.

“There are lots of ways we can help families,” Griffith said. “We want to stay relevant and continue to care about our community.”

Griffith said she sees all sorts of people use the library’s adjusted checkout model, including parents seeking picture books, as well as adults and retirees.

Branch Manager Bobbi Luster said what attracts many patrons is the Truckee Library’s Lucky Day Collection, provided by Friends of the Truckee Library.

Luster said the library makes six best sellers available right away in addition to its floating collection.

In spite of the short — two- to three-day — wait for a book after it’s requested, Griffith said the pandemic has affected business.

“We have a steady group of patrons, but circulation is down,” Griffith said. “Truckee Library misses its patrons. We’re a unique, close and vibrant community.”

Griffith said the library has expanded its community by following the Tahoe Truckee School District’s lunch van as it distributed food to low-income families.

“We were given grant money and have been able to help our Latinx community by created grab-and-go bags with bilingual books and crafts,” Griffith said.

Families picking up free meals can also get library-provided grab-and-go bags. Griffith said she was excited to reach a demographic that might not have capacity to use the curbside services.

Griffith said the library sent the bags to the Sarah Village Apartments, Truckee Pines, Henness Flats and Donner Creek Mobile Park over the summer.

“We distributed over 1,000 bilingual books to families,” said Bobbi Luster, Truckee branch manager. “The bilingual part is important because if a child can’t read, hopefully they have someone in the home who can.”

Luster said the library returned to Truckee Pines and Donner Creek Mobile Park with the same intent in the fall.

“Kids sat down on the sidewalk and would color right there,” Griffith said. “I’m so proud that the library has reached out to the entire community, not just to the people who can come curbside.”

OUTLETS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Lindsay Gramana moved to Truckee from a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco with her husband and three kids shortly after the pandemic began, expecting the region’s tight housing market to ease up.

For the Gramana family, the library’s robust programming provides outlets and opportunities to engage and learn about their new home.

“My kids have always loved books and story times and library activities,” Gramana explained. “So it’s definitely a connection to the community and it’s based on something that’s familiar to us in a time where my kids don’t go into stores or restaurants or anything like that.”

Lindsay Gramana said she frequents the curbside pickup location even more than her children because they are in class during the day.

Gramana said her daughter especially enjoyed the leaf scavenger hunt and learned about local trees. Gramana said

“It inspired us to pick out a few leaf books even, and we tied it in with my daughter’s school assignment,” Gramana said.

Gramana said the library has provided her family with unexpected resources as well.

“It’s so nice to be in a small town and have someone take some of our fruit if you’d like out in front of the building,” Gramana said.

Gramana said her daughter also used crab apples from the tree on the Truckee Library premises to practice addition and subtraction.

Branch Manager Luster said 2020 was challenging because of COVID-19, but the library’s collaboration and partnerships with community members was “unbelievable.”

“I’m not sure we would have taken all the steps to do the outreach we’ve done if it wasn’t for COVID,” Luster said. “It made us think outside of the box, outside our walls to make sure we serve all members of the community.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for the Sierra Sun and The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.


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