Caribou Library plans virtual, in-person activities for remainder of spring

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — After a year of hosting mostly virtual activities for the community, the Caribou Public Library is encouraging people to check out fun, small-scale activities while remaining safe.

There is still time for families to check out the library’s weekly nutrition activities, located in the children’s room. Every week children’s Librarian Erin Albers puts out an educational display related to a specific nutrition topic.

This week’s topic, Serving Sizes, featured a wheel that children could spin that matches particular types of food with their suggested serving sizes. Next week’s activity will teach children about beans and how they grow. The nutrition program ends on May 5 and will feature a Jeopardy game that tests families’ knowledge of the various topics.

Albers said the nutrition activities have been a great learning tool for children and a safe public activity for families.

“We’ve had over 15 kids take part in the activities, which is around the same number we’ve seen come to the library in person recently,” Albers said.

As part of a recent children’s nutrition program, Caribou librarian Erin Albers has set up weekly activities, including this week’s focus on serving sizes. (Courtesy of Caribou Public Library)

Families can also take part in the library’s superhero creation contest until the April 30 deadline. Both adults and children can submit a description, backstory and drawing of their own hero’s “supersuit” for a chance to win prizes, including science fiction books for adults and teens and sticker activity books for children. Contest forms are available at the library.

Community members looking to attend an in-person event at the library can do so during the next used books sale on Saturday, May 15. The sale will feature approximately 8,000 used books, DVDs and music CDs that people have donated to the library since the start of the pandemic.

The book sale will last 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Caribou Room, though any member of the Friends of the Library group can get in at 9 a.m. The library’s bookstore will also be open during those same hours.

“[During the pandemic] people have been cleaning their shelves more than before and bringing in books to the library,” noted Hope Shafer, Caribou library director. “We haven’t had a sale in year and a half, so we’re very excited.”

With the pandemic still ongoing, Shafer said that the library has slowly begun to explore more options for in-person programs. Since reopening last July they have restarted in-person meetings for their Middle and High School Book Club, Great Decisions foreign policy discussion group and Dungeons and Dragons group, all of which meet monthly at the library and also feature virtual Zoom meetings.

The library also hopes to expand their offerings of TechTalk, during which community volunteers meet with senior citizens to answer technology-related questions. The next TechTalk, in partnership with Age Friendly Caribou and Cary Medical Center, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 27.

Shafer said that the pandemic has brought about increased need for virtual, distanced and in-person library services. E-book check-outs have tripled since last March, increasing from 80 per month to more than 300. Many people also continue to utilize the library’s curbside pickup services on an as-needed basis.

But not everyone has access to WiFi at home, noted Shafer, which is why the library continues to be a popular, quick visit for people who need to print computer documents or use the copier and fax machines. Though the library has a 30-minute time limit for most visitations, the staff can make an exception for those who need the internet for longer periods.

“We’ve been able to work with students who need to take a test or go online for a college class to set up 45-minute time slots,” Shafer said. “We’re willing to adapt so that people have the time they need.”

Throughout the pandemic, Shafer and her staff have seen just how much the library’s community presence affects people who need access to space and services. 

“When we closed last March, there were people who were distraught. I always ran into folks at the stores who wanted to know when we’d open. They were fine with options like curbside pickup, but couldn’t wait to be inside,” Shafer said. “It’s a great feeling to know how important our library is to folks who need it.”