Catoosa Library main aisle

The Catoosa County Library is operating on COVID-19 hours right now: Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. The Summer Reading Club will be conducted online.

Many people are saying that the limitations COVID-19 has imposed on them have had an upside and a downside.

The downside for the Catoosa County Library, says Director Richard Groves, is the many programs people cannot currently come to. “Our children’s programs and our adult programs have been an important part of people’s lives. We are a social center for many adults who enjoy our activities and the people they get to know at them.”

Groves hopes things return to normal as soon as possible, but, he says, there has been an upside to having the library closed for many weeks. “We’ve inventoried the entire library, learned new technology as we work to bring library programs like story hour to people online, and we’ve reorganized some things to make the library more user-friendly. Those are all things we didn’t really have time to do before.”

Another thing library staff did was go through shelves and book collections and rid them of old, deteriorating books. Groves says some of the books were so musty, he had to take a fresh air break from working with them because he was getting headaches.

One of the first adaptations the library had to make when COVID-19 shut things down was to its weekly story hour that so many children looked forward to on Wednesdays. Library staff waxed quite creative on this front, reading on video to stuffed animals arranged as the children would have been and making children watching from home feel as if they were a part of a group or actually at the library.

In one online video, stuffed animals sat at little activity tables around the library, coloring pictures and playing. The library has also been posting craft pictorials on its Facebook page.

The big challenge facing the library right now, says Groves, is the annual summer reading club. “We’re working on the theme, which is ‘Read, Imagine and Create Your Story,’ and how kids can log the books they read online.”

The summer reading club typically includes a lot of in-person activities, says Groves. “We won’t be able to invite performers the way we have in the past, where we often had 250-300 people attending, but we’re going to try to offer some performances and programs online.”

The library is currently not allowing anyone to use its conference or study rooms and all in-library activities are on hold until further notice. Patrons can use the library’s computers, but half the computers are closed down in order to apply social distancing.

But people can check out books, audio books, DVDs, music and the many other things that can be borrowed from the library (think cake pans).

Patrons can also access books, audio books and movies through the library’s web site.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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