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Opinion: Librarians have been a link to help all of us strive to maintain a sense of normalcy.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City Public Library Director Greg Williams helps Marisa Fleming navigate changes to the system for picking up holds in November.A year ago, we began to face an uncertain future involving a pandemic testing our medical, physical, social and mental abilities. People throughout our county have stepped up and made a difference for all of us as we truly take life one day at a time. We recognize and honor such needed forces such as medical personnel, grocery workers, truckers, power-line folks, firefighters and so many more who have made a difference.

Alan MateckoOne unseen vital force has been our library staffs throughout the county. Though our library doors may be temporarily closed to the public, these people have worked behind the scenes to make things happen and to assist with social and mental needs of all ages. These librarians have been a link to help all of us strive to maintain a sense of normalcy in a world of a constantly changing and challenging environment.

From the pandemic to the summer fires to the recent ice storm, our libraries have been there for us. The 12 Clackamas County libraries administered by various cities and the county have been beacons of help to all of us. They have answered numerous calls about where to seek assistance on a wide range of subjects; they have helped educators and students with important research and material; and they have also kept the daily books, DVDs, CDs and other items distributed to library card holders.

In this difficult time, our librarians have stepped up and developed new ideas to meet the needs of their respective communities. A few examples of the work of the libraries are but a small representation of what all the libraries have done. In Sandy, the library developed a "take and make" craft program for people to design and make crafts with a purpose; in Oregon City, the library reached out to Head Start classes, providing books to the preschool readers of the future; in Lake Oswego, they established a parking lot mini-library under a tent; and in Happy Valley, the library staff developed an ongoing diversity program offering Zoom discussions and book bundles to help understand the racial concerns existing in America.

All libraries have used live video for children's story times, teen meetups, trivia nights, singalongs, book-group discussions and more. One library even put together a storytime blooper reel, allowing all of us to smile and laugh at gentle goofs.

And not surprisingly, all our libraries have found ways to provide free books to citizens faced with financial or other difficulties. For example, after the fires of the summer had subsided, the Estacada library, working with its Friends group, made sure local folks affected by the fires had access to free books and other help.

We in Clackamas County are blessed to have a wonderful group of libraries that work together for the greatest good possible. Our libraries are part of the county library network that assists in keeping the systems and procedures working 24/7. We don't see them, but they are an integral force in maintaining a great county library system we all enjoy.

Remember, our libraries are there for you, offering a helping hand and so much more.

And it's OK to take a moment and say thanks to them!

Happy Valley resident Alan Matecko is the chairperson of the Clackamas County Library District Advisory Committee.


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