Grab and go with the library |

Grab and go with the library

Nevada County Community Library offers fun, educational, safe services

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to the Sierra Sun
Donna gives out activity bags during curbside pickup at the Grass Valley Library.
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Amy at the Grass Valley Library presents Random Acts of Science over Facebook live.
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Mellisa presents Pajama Storytime from the Grass Valley Library, using Facebook live.
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The Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City.
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Librarians and staff at Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City are on site and available by phone and email.
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American writer Sidney Sheldon once said, “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve and contribute to improving our quality of life.” Nevada County is enriched by a strong and active library system that has managed to continue to connect the community through engagement and resources, even as the pandemic continues to limit opportunities to gather in person.

A quick look at the library calendar of events shows a robust list of activities geared toward all ages, and includes both online and “grab and go” resources.

For more info on the many services offered by the county libraries, visit

Adult Services Librarian at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City (just one of six branch libraries serving Nevada County) Megan Lloyd said there was some regrouping to be done when the shut down began in March, but the libraries are extremely active.

“There was a little bit of a learning curve,” explained Lloyd. “We got everything digital as quickly as we could and started thinking about how to reach people who might not have great access to digital, so we started offering grab bags and we have found that combination has worked pretty well for the community.”

“Grab Bags” is an activity or other program in a bag.

“Whatever we would normally do, like an art program or a science program, we have put together all of the supplies so people can pick them up, take them home and do them along with us with an online tutorial or just on their own,” Lloyd said. Activities are organized for children and for adults. Each week there is an art activity for adults with grab bags available for pick up at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City, at the Grass Valley Library Royce Branch, and sometimes at the Truckee Library in eastern Nevada County. The art programs have been offered for years through the library system — in person before the pandemic — and continuing now with a bit of innovation.


Another program the library continues to bring to residents is the Winter Reading Challenge. Lloyd said people are asking for an outlet.

“If you are staying at home alone, or having to quarantine with your family, it’s nice to have an activity that you don’t have to come up with and try to figure out how to keep yourself or your family entertained. People have been very into that,” said Lloyd.

The Winter Reading challenge suggests just 30 minutes of reading a week for adults and 10 minutes a day for youths. Prizes are given just for signing up and more prizes are available as participants meet the challenge through Jan. 31.

“Parents come in to sign their kids up and then realize that there is an adult version on it too and get really excited and sign up themselves,” Lloyd said.

Other popular programs offered an no cost to county residents include a monthly virtual crafting circle where librarians get on the library Facebook live page and complete a craft and talk about crafting. The libraries also offer a number of online books clubs including one on diverse perspectives.

“This is a cool way to explore different perspectives and lots of different ways of approaching diversity,” said Lloyd. “This month was for National Religious Freedom Day and last month was around World Aids Day. “

The library also offers ‘Online Lawyer in the Library’ because of a great group of volunteers, Lloyd said. “We have a couple of local lawyer volunteers who give up their time on the first Friday of the month to sit down with people and talk about their court cases, and legal issues they are dealing with. They (the lawyers) are really, really incredible. I can not say enough about how amazing our lawyer volunteers are. They really bend over backwards to help people out.”

Everything the library offers is free. Funding comes in a variety of sources including grants, donations made through the nonprofit “Friends of the Library” and a bit from a voter approved sales tax.


Nevada County Reads and Writes

Nevada County Reads and Writes kicks off Feb. 1. This year, “The Roundhouse” by Louise Erdrich — winner of the National Book Award for fiction — was chosen and several events are planned.

“It is a little bit challenging with COVID,” said Lloyd. “But we are doing what we can to make sure there is stuff for everybody. We have an art walk from Feb. 8 through 13 in Nevada City where you can walk around and see art inspired by ’The Roundhouse’ or connected to it somehow, including at the space for CHIRP (California Heritage Indigenous Research Project) with local Niesenan. That is a very cool thing we are able to incorporate this year. It culminates with a digital event on Zoom featuring CHIRP spokesperson Shelly Covert.”

When asked what she wishes the library could do more of, Lloyd said one of the challenges is bridging the digital divide. “I wish we had more funding to be able to give people more wi-fi. The library does have a number of hotspots they offer on loan for up to 14 days at time.”

Lloyd said the role of the library is to provide a community center.

“It’s a place where everybody and anybody is welcome and everybody and anybody does come to the library. It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you are at in life. We get young families. We get seniors, and everybody in between. It’s a place to come and be. You get your free wi-fi. You get your books. You get access to information which is one of our favorite things to give people access to, but we also have programs and events and ways to connect with each other.”

More information about each of the mentioned programs and more can be found online by going to or by calling any of the branches.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at She can be reached at holliesallwrite@


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