MANALAPAN – A variety of programs, new creative ideas, and an enthusiasm to overcome challenges all resulted in a packed schedule for children using the Monmouth County Library system in spite of Covid 19 regulations.
That was the report of Children’s Coordinator Pat Findra last month, in giving her annual report to the Monmouth County Library Commission. The library hears annual reports from each of the department heads, highlighting the accomplishments and strong points of the program, as well as reporting on specific problems or needs.
The librarian noted while Covid restrictions continued throughout the year, staff members worked long and hard continuing to provide library services while at the same time ensuring health and safety protection for families and communities.
While at the beginning of the year, door-side service was the primary means of providing needs for the children’s community, Findra said virtual programs and take-home crafts were also included in the modified plans.
All these efforts enabled the children’s library to provide limited in-person services during the second half of the year, while still maintaining social distance for all programs.
One advantage of all the department’s efforts, Findra continued, was the popularity growth of take-home crafts, an option that exceeded records for previous in-person options.
Department members also joined other employees in assisting in other library services, including door-side services, shelving materials, conducting reference services, ordering new materials and covering chat an e-mail service requests, along with numerous other areas, Findra said.
The 2021 summer reading program, Tales and Tails, presented a challenge in promoting the program and increasing participation as staff was unable to conduct in person school visits and students were overloaded with screen time due to various schooling formats. However, summer reading statistics were higher than the previous year, although approximately only at 50% compared to 2019.
Throughout last summer and into late fall, the children’s staff conducted outdoor story time; staff conducted Zoom story-times in branch library areas without outdoor facilities for story time.
By the last two months of the year, story time was continued indoors with social distancing. In spite of library efforts, the indoor story times showed a large decline in participants compared to the previous year.
Special virtual events were scheduled throughout the year with presentations virtually as well as with on demand replay options available for up to thirty additional days.
The department underwent many staffing changes during the year, but is looking forward to increasing staff and continuing to engage the community with programs, Findra concluded.
For more information on the range of programs offered by the Monmouth County Library for children, and for more information on all the library offers, visit www.MonmouthCountylib.org.