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With its doors closed, Molalla Library staff have been brain-storming programs to keep its patron engaged

If the current pandemic has driven home a point clearly to Molalla Library Director Diana Hadley, it's that serving the community of Molalla is a worthy mission.

As its doors shut and access to the physical body of the library has been eliminated for the foreseeable future, Hadley and her staff have focused on innovative ways to offer services to the community. On Thursday, May 14, the Molalla Public Library will commemorate its 120-year anniversary of providing continuous service in the community, making it the oldest continually serving library in Clackamas County. It's also a reminder of what the library's responsibility is to the public.

"I think the biggest thing, which I've always known, but has become really clear to me, is we are here to serve our community in whatever capacity we can," said Hadley. "We are doing our best to serve the community in these troubled times."

The full-time library staff is available during regular library hours Monday through Friday, looking for ways to be of help to the community. While there are simply things the staff can't do, there has been plenty of new things they've helped put into place for patrons to still access library resources. It's something Hadley is quite proud of.

"Staff is dedicated to serving the community and has been incredibly creative in coming up with online programs," said Hadley. "On our Facebook page, every single day, there is a new and different website up for people to explore a wide variety of projects. We want to keep our community engaged and really want to let them know we are still thinking of them and still here."

PMG FILE PHOTO - Molalla Public LIbrary Director Diana Hadley said that the library staff is committed to still provide services and programs to its patrons.

There's currently a LEGO contest going on with the library's Instagram account (Molalla Public Library), as well as new things showing up on the website and Facebook (Molalla Library) pages.

Hadley admitted that keeping the library doors closed has come with some surprises. She noted that the five full-time staffers are "incredibly busy every single day without people here. Our days are packed with things to do as we think of projects each day, are doing some deep cleaning and getting rid of stuff — things we just didn't have time for when we were open to the public."

The staff is also rearranging some of the library materials to help with flow, as well as bringing some collections that are maybe underused or harder to get to, into a place where they are more accessible.

The library has also instituted a program called Hoopla! It's a streaming and video service that Molalla Public Library just subscribed to.

To access, patrons will need a Molalla Library card. Hadley said it's "pretty simple" to sign up for and provides a large catalog of TV shows and movies.

"You get five 'borrows' a month — five shows per card each month," said Hadley. "It also has some 'bonus borrows' that don't count against the card. It's something we added to, again, engage the community. DVD's tend to be our highest circulation item, so this will help with that. I fully realize that not everyone has internet access at home, but this is a way to reach out to the community for us."

Additionally, Clackamas County has increased its budget for e-books and audiobooks through the lincc.org website. This is something that Hadley said has plenty of benefits as social distancing and self-isolation have become the norm.

"Our audio book usage has skyrocketed," she said. "Right before all of this, we were in the process of adding an e-card signup. For people who don't have a library card, they can apply online for an e-card and that will instantly give them access to our online resources.

"The age limit on that has been dropped to 5 years old. School kids can access the e-books. There is a lot of children and teen programming available," she added.

Hadley noted that there's not a specific timetable for the doors of the library to reopen, adding that it's an "until further notice" situation.

However, she said that the library has a host of programs available online. Additionally, if patrons have questions, they can still call 503-829-2593.

"There is one proviso — we are not pulling books for people and not accepting returns," said Hadley. "Any materials that people currently have checked out, the due date for them has been extended until one week after we reopen. People don't need to renew things. We've already done that."


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