By JOHN HOWELL It couldn't have been a more open invitation. The automatic doors at the Warwick Public Library were open wide Monday morning after being closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. What's more, there was a welcoming party -
It couldn’t have been a more open invitation.
The automatic doors at the Warwick Public Library were open wide Monday morning after being closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. What’s more, there was a welcoming party – appropriately masked and distanced, of course.
But there was also something new, another door welcoming “little people” to the library. What was formally the Idea Studio with an entrance off the lobby is now being used for the children’s library with an exterior entrance separate from the main entrance.
“It’s not as big,” children’s librarian Ellen O’Brien said of the space, “but we have something.”
Missing are the aquarium, the children-sized furniture, cozy spots where kids could play, computers and shelves filled with books. Yet this is, indeed, a kids’ place. The cartoon characters on the wall tell you that as well as the children’s books that are spread out on tabletops to be borrowed.
O’Brien is planning for a busy summer, even though there may not be the foot traffic the second story Children’s Library is accustomed to seeing.
On June 15, O’Brien will launch this year’s Summer Learning Challenge offering family activities with prizes and badges to be won.
Last year, about 1,900 people signed up for the challenge with about 1,000 completing the program. As was the case last year, kids will be able to earn points for reading and after amassing 50 points get a “goodie bag,” said O’Brien. Theme of the challenge is “imagine your story.”
She said there’s a challenge app and that complete details are available on the library website. Bonus badges are part of the challenge under different categories such as Warwick Foodie, Warwick Rambles and Warwick Branch Out.
O’Brien explained an aim of the bonus badges is to get children looking around their surroundings and outside. Under Warwick Foodie, for example, kids and their families will find badges at food vendors such as Subway on sandy Lane and Dave’s Marketplace, two of several businesses that are library supporters.
As part of Warwick Rambles, children will be able to read up on four Warwick locations Rocky Point, Salter Grove Park, Oakland Beach and City Park in anticipation of visiting the locations.
During the closure, O’Brien said the staff was busy conducting a virtual book club on Zoom, children book readings and posting on Facebook.
“I even did a yoga class,” she said.
Under Phase 2 of the library reopening, explained librarian Chris LaRoux, library branches will remain closed except for curbside pickups. Inside the Central Library, the shelves have been cordoned off and new editions are displayed on tables and are available for loan. Other materials are available but need to be requested from the staff that will retrieve them. A computer is available for public use, but usage time is restricted.
Under Phase 3 that could start in July, LaRoux expects most of the library will be open. He doesn’t expect meeting rooms to be available for group meetings for foreseeable future. LaRoux doesn’t see it going back to normal, at least not for some time.
People came prepared with masks, but just in case they were also made available. Hand sanitizer was on a table at the entrance and outside the restrooms.
Based on space and distancing requirements, LaRoux put the limit on library visitors at 25.
By 11 a.m., he said 100 people had visited, or about half the number they would expect to see pre-pandemic.
The Central Library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday; and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.