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Library programs remain popular

GLOVERSVILLE — Programs through the Gloversville Public Library have reportedly remained popular among patrons even as the library has again reverted to curbside-only pickup until further notice due to the rise in coronavirus cases locally.

Library Director Valerie Acklin reported to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday that participation in remote programs launched by the library over the past year in response to the coronavirus has remained consistent, experiencing only a slight lull in the final weeks of December.

“When Christmas was over, we saw an uptick,” said Acklin.

The library introduced remote programming over the summer while the building remained closed to the public after shutting its doors on March 17 over coronavirus health safety concerns. Virtual programming was continued to limit in-person contact after the library reopened on July 20 for restricted browsing under coronavirus safety protocols.

The library is currently closed to the public again until further notice, offering only curbside service after shutting its doors on Jan. 6 due to the rising number of coronavirus cases locally. Library staff have continued to report to work to fill requests for lending materials online and by phone for scheduled curbside pickup and to coordinate remote program offerings.

Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the library’s weekly craft and story time for kids that allows families to pick up supply kits to assemble at home while enjoying a story read by library staff in videos posted on Facebook has remained a hit.

A similar monthly adult-craft-to-go program launched in the fall has been “going gangbusters,” according to Acklin, who noted that kits for projects this month and December were all spoken for.

Advanced registration is required for the adult grab-and-go craft program that sees patrons assemble various arts projects at home with virtual direction from library staff. Registration is currently open for the February project with 24 seats still available.

The library has also launched several first-time remote offerings for the new year, including a virtual workshop on healthy eating each Friday through the end of this month from Molly Capito, aging services dietitian and nutrition educator of the state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Education for Fulton, Herkimer and Montgomery Counties.

Library Assistant Christine Prokopiak will also offer a new virtual wellness workshop on Jan. 26 exploring Dr. Sue Morter’s Energy Codes, “a seven-step system to awaken your spirit, heal your body, and live your best life.”

The library has also unveiled an asynchronous book club that will see a broad topic chosen each month through March from which patrons can make their own selection. Participants are asked to submit their thoughts on a question related to the month’s theme after reading their selected work for entry into a spring raffle.

The asynchronous book club will temporarily replace the library’s regular Jolly Readers monthly book club that has temporarily been suspended due to dwindling participation numbers through the fall as the club faced scheduling and technological challenges meeting remotely.

Board of Trustees President Charles “Ren” Reed commended library staff for their efforts to continue engaging with the community since the spring.

“People are recognizing things are different, but the library had to turn on a dime and came up with some wonderful virtual programming or off-site programming,” said Reed. “People are still staying connected; part of the library’s mission is to create a sense of community within our community.”

Trustee Susan Shrader, who is also involved in ongoing efforts to open a code blue shelter in the city, shared with the board that library staffer Linda Conroy recently reached out to shelter organizers looking for an opportunity to support community members accessing the overnight emergency winter shelter in the coming weeks.

After facing zoning challenges at the proposed shelter site at the Gloversville Free Methodist Church’s mission and outreach building at 33 Bleecker St., organizers working with the city have secured an alternate site for the code blue shelter this winter at 144 E. Fulton St.

Organizers have set a targeted opening date of Feb. 1 for the shelter that will take in adults aged 18 and older, overnight only from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. when code blue orders are issued by the Fulton County Department of Social Services.

Operation of code blue shelters is governed by an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January 2016 directing social service districts, police agencies and state agencies to aid homeless people in getting off the streets and into appropriate shelters in inclement weather when temperatures fall at or below 32 degrees factoring in wind chill.

Library staff recently contacted the shelter organizers to discuss opportunities to support those accessing the facility when it opens, possibly through the donation of books.

“I thought that was wonderful that they are trying to become more involved in the community,” said Shrader.

“We’re pretty excited about establishing service with members of the community who maybe have not had it before in a meaningful way,” said Acklin.

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