Keeping small children entertained during inclement winter weather is challenging, especially with a Coronavirus pandemic going on, but the Mason County Library System is stepping up to help parents in the effort.
Programs that parents normally had to take their children to the libraries to enjoy are now available without leaving home or, in some cases, just a quick stop for supplies.
Story Hour, which is held for pre-school children at each of the libraries – Point Pleasant, Mason and New Haven – has been offered virtually since the new season began in September 2020. The virtual program will continue through the spring, according to Library Director Pam Thompson.
Open to anyone, the virtual videos, three each week, are led by Cindy Williams from the Point Pleasant library. Posted in a private Facebook group, one video will include a story, the second a craft, and the third, a sing along and play time activity.
Children signed up for virtual story hour get a “play along pack” that includes all the supplies necessary. Folders are marked for each week, and have all the elements included, as well as worksheets.
In-person story hour is being held also, but sessions are full due to the COVID-19 restrictions and safeguards. Those interested in joining the virtual sessions can call the library in Point Pleasant at 304-675-0894. Participants must be added to the private group in order to view the videos.
In addition, a quick stop at any of the Mason County Library locations can provide an evening of fun for the entire family. “Family Game Night Kits” are available to be checked out and come with everything needed for a night of entertainment. The kits include a variety of activities from games to play to recipes to cook together.
A new program began in December for not only children, but for all ages. “Dial A Story” is available by calling 866-535-9660. Once connected, patrons can choose “1” for children’s books and activities; “2” for youth and teens; or “3” for adults. The children’s section will contain short stories from popular books, as well as jokes. The youth and teen section will have chapter books, along with activities like simple science experiments. Adults can choose from several popular titles, as well.
Williams is in charge of the program, and said choices change monthly. Future ideas include trivia challenges, poetry contests, recipes, and guest readers.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the Mason County libraries have adapted their normal programming in order to continue to serve the public.
Each summer, the libraries serve lunches to children regardless of their parents’ income. The program was changed last summer from in-house meals to a “grab and go,” where children could simply come to the door or vestibule of any library and choose a bagged lunch. The Summer Reading Program was changed as well, with kits being sent home with children containing activities and crafts. Additional activities, such as outdoor scavenger hunts, were posted in the windows.
The libraries did not forget about the adults, however. Free masks were given out at each location by drive-through pick up in the spring and summer. Patrons who are undecided on what books to read can choose “Staff Pick Bundles.” Each bundle contains three to five books, within a chosen genre. The “New Year’s Reading Challenge” entices adults to read 12 books during the year, turn in a form, and be entered into a drawing for a $20 gift card good at popular businesses.
When the libraries were forced to close their doors to the public because of COVID-19, curbside service continued. Patrons could call the library to request a book, and employees would hang that book on the door for pick-up. Notary and fax service continued with people leaving their items at the door.
Thompson is encouraging people to remain in touch with the libraries, and promises an exciting new program will soon be announced. For more information on any library program, contact the Point Pleasant location at 304-675-0894; the Mason library at 304-773-5580; or the New Haven library at 304-882-3252.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]