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Guest Column: Despite pandemic, library has much to offer

Guest Column by Annice Sevett


During this pandemic, individuals, organizations and businesses have all had to adapt to ensure that our community stays healthy. The Albert Lea Public Library is no exception to that. Our mission at the Albert Lea Public Library is to connect you with the books you want, the information you need and the community you live in. We’ve adapted our services to make sure that we are staying true to that mission. As this situation evolves, our services may change, but we will continue to keep our mission in mind as we establish ways to serve you that keep everyone healthy.

Annice Sevett

So what’s happening at the library?

In terms of connecting you with the books you want and the information you need, we continue to offer computer use by appointment and our no-contact pickup service. You can request books online through the catalog and when they are ready to be picked up, our staff will call to set up a pickup time that works for you. We are receiving deliveries from other libraries in our region and around the state, so you can request books that we do not own from other libraries.

A new addition to our no-contact pickup service is a book bundle. Starting on Monday, you will be able to request books on a specific genre, theme or subject. Rather than selecting your own titles, let our staff use their knowledge to hand-select books that fit your needs. This service will be available for books at any reading level (juvenile, young adult or adult).

Our book drop is open Monday through Thursday for you to return materials. Using guidance from the state, our materials are held for three days before being checked in and allowed to circulate to other people. If digital materials better meet your needs, we have ebooks, audiobooks, movies and more available through OverDrive and Hoopla. Our regional library system recently added digital magazines to OverDrive. These magazines are always available to read so you don’t have to wait to dive right in to the latest issues.

The last part of our mission is to connect you to the community you live in. Our programs continue to be virtual, and we have a few exciting new offerings for the fall. Our virtual children’s programs will start again the week of Sept. 14. Programs will include storytime, Music and Movement, family trivia, book pals and other special events that will take place throughout the fall. There will be preschool craft bags available for pickup that correspond to our virtual storytimes. The first one will be available starting on Sept. 8.

A new program we are excited to offer is our family craft event. Starting on Sept. 1, families can request a family craft bag. Each bag will contain enough supplies for the whole family to participate in a craft project. There will be a new craft bag to request each month. On the third Monday of the month, join us on Zoom to show what you did and talk about the craft with other families.

In addition to our children and family programs, we have a variety of virtual adult programs scheduled. These include adult trivia, Needles, Pins & More, and bingo. In August, we started handing out adult take and make craft kits. Similar to the family craft bags, these kits contain everything you’ll need to complete a craft. Each month, we’ll get together virtually to show off what we made. New craft bags are available on the first of each month.

Adult coloring kits for adults will be available starting Sept. 1. This is a new kit that we are excited to offer. Kits will contain a variety of coloring sheets and a pack of colored pencils. In recent years, adult coloring has become a popular stress-relieving activity. Similar to our other kits, we will hold virtual coloring meetups to help you connect to others in the community by participating in a shared activity.

Details for everything mentioned above and information about our other services are available on our website or by calling the library at 507-377-4350. As the situation changes, we will continue to adapt our services to meet the needs of our community while keeping everyone healthy and safe.

Annice Sevett is assistant director of the Albert Lea Public Library.