While the Grand County Public Library has been closed to the public for over two months, the librarians inside haven’t stopped working to put good media in the hands of local residents.

“We are really keeping busy with curbside pickup and increasing our digital offerings,” said Carrie Valdez, library director.

Valdez said that while everyone was looking forward to when the library building could reopen, residents have stayed very engaged with online services, the curbside pickup program which allows readers to check out library material while respecting physical distancing recommendations, and other services like the Kids Cafe.

“We’re averaging about 2,000 items a week being checked out of the library through the curbside program,” said Valdez, “and we’re giving out over 300 lunches to local children a week through the Kids Cafe.”

Those numbers only reflect the physical library: offerings accessible online have been rapidly expanded as well.

The library has added new resources that can be accessed at home, including a treasury of romance novels and Creativebug, a resource for craft workshops.

Upcoming children’s programming like “The Care of Mystical Creatures” presentation with Scales and Tails Utah on June 6 will be streamed online for families to enjoy at home. Read more about this event in Cosmo’s Corner, page 12 of this edition.

Events at the library will continue to be streamed online even after the library building has reopened, said Valdez.

“When we’re open to the public again, it’s going to be different. That’s obvious to everyone,” she said, “so we want to continue to offer as many options as possible to make sure that everyone feels safe and can make choices that feel good.”

That includes continuing to offer curbside pickup, she said.

Binge-watch movies at home

One program that has proven popular with the curbside pickup crowd has been the new Binge Boxes, curated collections of film DVDs, grouped by genre and checked out all at once.

The idea came to the library before the coronavirus pandemic, after staff attended a conference and heard about the program’s success at other libraries.

The packages contain four or five DVD films in categories like horror, sci-fi and romance. Many genres have more than one collection and more are constantly being created.

“Staff are getting really creative with the themes and putting them together,” said Valdez, who noted that the library has a lot of regular DVD users.

“They’ve been really, really popular and a lot of fun,” she said.

Available Binge Boxes can be seen online or by calling 435-355-0924

The Digital Divide

“There are definitely people who just miss coming in to the building but we’re working hard to distribute hotspots and laptops to those who are being left behind by the digital divide,” said Valdez.

“Some people in our community just don’t have good, consistent access to the internet,” she said, “so that’s something we’re trying to keep in mind as well.”

The library has purchased additional portable hotspots, which allow computers and cellphones to access the internet. Those hotspots will be available to check out from the library beginning next month, though there is usually holds placed on the high-demand items.

Through a grant through the Utah State Library, the library’s free wireless internet has also been extended. Community members can now access the internet and online resources from the parking area in front of the library building. The wifi password is gcplwifi and access does not require a library card.

“The wifi now reaches over to the shady area next to the library as well,” said Valdez, “not a bad place to sit for a while!”

“We definitely have people who want to know when the building is going to reopen,” said Valdez, “and we’re figuring that out with the Grand County government and the Southeast Utah Health Department. But the main thing to know is that we’re still here.”

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