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The library is open for browsing by appointment. Staff have worked to keep readers engaged from a safe distance.

COURTESY PHOTO: SCAPPOOSE PUBLIC LIBRARY - The library recently received a grant to purchase books and put together activity kits and information for parents around social-emotional skills for young kids.The Scappoose Public Library is open for appointments to browse the bookshelves — or the web, with computers available as well.

The past year has been a turbulent one for many individuals and groups, and the library is no exception. COURTESY PHOTO: KAREN RENEE OYLER - Everly, who is four years old, shows her bug magnets made from one of the Scappoose Library's take-and-make kits.

The library closed down at the beginning of the pandemic, but opened up appointments last summer. When Columbia County was declared "extreme risk," the library again halted appointments. But in February, the county moved down to "high risk," and the library restarted appointments. The county is now in "moderate risk," the second-lowest of the four categories that counties have been divided into based on COVID-19 spread.

The library is allowing up to 15 people in the building at once. That number includes two to four staff members, depending on who is working at the time.

Scappoose Public Library director Jeff Weiss said that won't change until the county is in the green zone, meaning the "lower risk" level.

"We do try to accommodate people if they just show up," Weiss noted.

The library hasn't had to lay off staff during the pandemic. One position has been left unfilled after the employee left for college, Weiss said, but no layoffs have been necessary.

In addition to the director, the library is staffed by five part-time employees.

COURTESY PHOTO: ASHLEY KING - Five-year-old Maci Haynes shows her project from a STEM mystery bag distributed by the Scappoose Public Library.The library has offered curbside pickup throughout the past year, but Weiss said circulation has still just been a fraction of what it was when the library was fully open.

With fewer readers in the library and without the in-person story times and other events the library hosted in the pre-pandemic world, library staff have had more time to create take-home activities for all ages.

Staff have put together "make and take" activity kits for young kids, like a paper bag "worry monster" and magnets topped with paper ladybugs and bumblebees. There have also been little treats for adults, like a Literary Socie-TEA to provide tea samples for adults, along with a sweet treat, information on the tea's history, and recommended book pairings.

Staff also put together book bundles for children, teens and adults, collecting a group of books around a common theme. Teens are also invited to request a "Sweet on YA" bundle of young adult books and an edible treat, by sharing the genres and books they like so that staff can put together a customized bundle.

"The children's kits are much more popular than the adults', but they've both been popular," Weiss said. Staff put together 100 kits for children each week, and they usually run out within a few days.COURTESY PHOTO: SCAPPOOSE PUBLIC LIBRARY - Library staff have created book walks to guide readers through the grounds outside the library.

"The adults' (kits) are kind of specialty things that we've been trying," Weiss said. "If we're back to doing live programming and having a couple hundred people coming through each day, we'll have to cut back."

The library recently received a grant from Northwest Early Learning Hub to put together a series of kits on emotional development for children. Staff are purchasing books and putting together accompanying activity kits for a different topic each month. The first kits will come out this month, with the theme of "Be Yourself."

Staff also put up story walks through the library grounds, with pages of a picture book posted along a path.

The weekly free produce distribution has continued (Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon in the library's meeting room).

A monthly "Read Together Apart" book club now meets on Zoom.

Digital resources like audio books and e-books are available through Library2Go or the Libby app.

The Library of Things includes games like Mancala and Settlers of Catan; kitchen equipment ranging from cookie cutters to a fondue maker; electronics like a light therapy lamp or Zumba DVD; and educational activity kits. The library added a cookware collection during the pandemic and circulates a few items each week.

"I'm expecting that that will really take off when we open back up," Weiss said.

The library is also asking for feedback on its services and its 2021-2025 strategic plan through an online survey.


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