St. Helens Public Library stays connected to the public
Book-lovers in St. Helens have had to adjust their routines during the coronavirus pandemic.
The St. Helens Public Library remains closed to the public, but there are options available to bibliophiles.
"We are continuing to offer curbside service for four different times per week," said Margaret Jeffries, longtime library director in St. Helens.
Curbside service takes place Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., as well as on Fridays, when service is from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Jeffries helps out as well, even though she's in charge of the entire library.
"I work the window once a month, on a Saturday," she explained, "so I get to see all the people that need reading material, especially during this time."
At the St. Helens Library, people place their holds either by calling the library or placing their holds online. "Most people place their holds online," Jeffries said, noting that books and materials are quarantined when returned.
"For people who are not internet-savvy or don't have a computer at home, they can come to the library," Jeffries said. "We have some of our new items on display in the windows on either side of our front door. Those displays are rotated regularly with the newest items that have come in."
Jeffries added, "We feel like we're doing a service by offering materials to the public, but in a safe environment."
Even with the pandemic, the St. Helens Public Library is able to engage with the public.
"Our reference librarian has hosted the genealogy group that we have," Jeffries said.
The genealogy group meets the first Monday of the month on Zoom.
"Some of our other groups that we have hosted and have a strong collaboration with have been arts skills, the ukulele orchestra and the Writer's Guild," Jeffries said. "With stronger protocols, we've had to restrict those groups from being in the building."
Virtual story times are offered once a week on the library Facebook page, and are offered by youth librarian Gretchen Kolderup.
Jeffries looks forward to the day when patrons can return to the library.
"Some libraries have elected to let a limited number of people come in," Jeffries said. "We are working toward doing that. We would like to first begin by allowing people to come in and use the public computers. I would see that as being the first service that we offer."
Jeffries anticipates the curbside window will operate for quite some time.
"That seems to be (a) format that our community seems comfortable with and keeps our staff and the community safe," she said.
If you have an interest in participating in the inner workings of the library, you have a chance to serve on the library board. One opening is available to an interested citizen.
The library board advises the St. Helens City Council about library operations.
Jeffries talked about the benefits of signing up.
"Certainly, it gives them a window into the operation of the library and, to some degree, the operation of the city," Jeffries said. "It certainly gives them an opportunity to get to know some of the staff members. Library board meetings happen after the library is closed."
Jeffries said, "A community kind of grows out of that association. A term on the library board is four years, which is a significant commitment, but over the course of that time, individuals who serve on the board get to know each other."
If you are interested, you can contact city recorder Kathy Payne at 503-366-8217. The deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. Feb. 5.
Looking ahead, Jeffries said, "I definitely look forward to a future when we're going to be able to have all of the vibrant groups that enjoy our facility back here."
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