Upgrades, Services, Summer Programs, Reopening

Although Gilmer Public Library has been closed for several weeks due to SARS-CoV-2, the library has received several upgrades thanks to the independent activities of several library supporters. During this closure, community members can enjoy online resources, and when the library reopens to the public, enjoy new features and expanded services.

LIBRARY UPGRADES

The largest upgrade project during the closure, by far, has been the creation of the Tammi S. Hardman Memorial Patio.  During her 15 years at the library, Tammi often suggested creating a sitting area in the library’s front yard under the ornamental cherry tree.  When the library began offering free wifi outside the building two years ago, the shaded patio became a more important concept, a place where wifi users (and book readers) could have a comfortable place to sit outside and enjoy the weather.  When Tammi passed in January 2020, the project was immediately deemed to be dedicated to her memory.

This project was partially funded by a grant from the West Virginia Library Commission, supplemented with funds from private donors. Those dollars were then stretched by significant material discounts from Hardman’s Hardware and by the volunteer labor of Glenville resident and library patron John Robinson. The paver patio in the library’s shaded yard includes two hand-made benches, one having been donated by Gloria Summers in honor and memory of her mother-in-law, Mary Lynch Summers. Another bench is being constructed and can also be donated in memory of a loved one. Email lisa.minney@clark.lib.wv.us for more information.

With the financial support of Friends of Gilmer Public Library and private donors, a full landscaping upgrade has been undertaken to compliment the new patio, improve the library’s “curb appeal” and presence, and provide additional outdoor seating. The railings around the front porch are being upgraded, and a new handrail has been installed at the entrance of the library’s meeting room. The rock bed between the library and Walnut Street has been stripped of the old red lava rock and re-filled with river rock.

Two benches have been also been placed in the rock bed—iron-end benches refurbished by hand with Gilmer County harvested red oak. The iron ends were donated by library patrons, and the refurbishing work was also donated. One of those benches has been dedicated in memory of Margie Smith, who served as Assistant Librarian for many years, and the second in memory of Glenna Queen, a former dedicated library volunteer.

Friends of Gilmer Public Library also helped fund the conversion of the library’s ceiling lights from fluorescent to LED bulbs. A grant from State Farm Insurance launched this conversion process by changing out a portion of the lights last fall, and the library saw significantly lower electric bills immediately. The completion of the project is expected to provide even greater savings.

Also, a local private donor has covered the cost of renewing the library’s annual lease with McNaughton books, which provides new release books in hardback to the library on a rotating basis year-round. This lease, which costs about $4300 a year, was lost during the library’s not-so-distant financial challenges and is a significant upgrade to the library’s book collection. These new release books will be available for check-out shortly after the library re-opens.

SAFE-AT-HOME SERVICES

Although Gilmer Public Library is currently closed, many library services are still available. Using the Overdrive app or Libby app, library cardholders can easily access free ebooks and audiobooks through WV Reads. No library card? No problem. You can sign up for a digital library card at https://wvreads.overdrive.com/.

All members of the community can access WVInfoDepot, the West Virginia eLibrary, an anywhere, anytime library that you can access from your home PC, school library, or mobile device. WVInfoDepot provides access to millions of magazine and newspaper articles, ebooks, digital images, test preparation, primary source materials, and more. You can access the entire database online at https://gilmerpublib.org/databases/.

Gilmer Public Library has provided free wifi access around the physical building for more than two years now, and was one of the first in the state to do so. The wifi is available for access when the library is open or closed, and the password is noted on the sign in front of the building.

Also, the library placed free mini-libraries throughout the county several years ago. A concentrated effort has been made to keep these stocked in recent weeks, with more than 600 books and 200 magazines being distributed. The library has also placed carts of free books and magazines on the front porch, available 24/7. Please feel free to add to, or take from, the mini-libraries, and watch for us to make greater use of them this summer.

SUMMER PROGRAMMING

The next round of upgrades for Gilmer Public Library will be directed towards the library’s online presence. The library’s 2020 Summer Reading program will include activities that families can enjoy on their own schedule, throughout our rural county, whether the library is open or closed. We will be offering several digital features, many similar to the activities, stories, videos, and concepts the library’s Facebook page has been presenting during the Stay-at-Home Order.

Your library understands the lack of accessible internet or cell phone coverage in our rural area, so the Summer Reading program (this year’s theme relating to “imagination”), will also include non-digital programs with all health concerns in mind, allowing for social distancing, safety, creativity, adventure, and fun. Story hikes, geocaches, and activity packets are all on the menu.

Watch our web site, our Facebook page, local media, and the mini-libraries throughout the county for more on the 2020 Summer Reading program, launching mid-to-late June.

WHEN AND HOW TO RE-OPEN

The biggest challenge for Gilmer Public Library right now is how, and when, to reopen the library’s building for public use. Because of the organization’s very purpose, the requirements and concerns for health and safety are complex and overwhelming.  Because of the nature of the library and librarians, we have been researching and accessing information and data on Coronavirus, COVID-19, the West Virginia Safer-at-Home order, and the state and local health department guidelines for re-opening.

Rest assured, your library has been in contact with the West Virginia Library Commission, the American Library Association, other organizations and librarians throughout the state and nation to find ways to ensure the public has safe, unhindered access to public library resources. Each library is left to determine their own approach and measures within the recommended health guidelines, according to the information and knowledge currently available relating to Coronavirus and COVID-19 risks. Gilmer Public Library has chosen a slow, multi-phase re-opening.

Starting this week, librarians are available to answer the phone three days a week. There will be no check-outs, no curb service, and no access to the inside of the building, the copier, fax, or computers. Staff is there to answer phone questions, finish building upgrades, prepare for re-open, and develop the Summer Reading program (which is required in order to maintain compliance with our state grant mandates).

With an abundance of caution, the library is tentatively scheduling to re-open on June 1 with measures in place that may seem extreme to some, and frustrating to others. Some measures, like limited hours, will last until July 1. Other measures, such as requesting that visiting patrons wear masks (we will have disposable masks and gloves and hand sanitizers available), will continue as long as the West Virginia Coronavirus Czar, Dr. Clay Marsh, recommends the use of masks in public. The library has purchased ns95 masks and gloves for all employees, who have chosen (not been mandated, which is illegal), to wear them.

Additional measures--such as quarantining returned items for 5-7 days, limiting the use of and time with public access computers, limiting the number of people in the building at one time, and closing the meeting room--will continue until no longer deemed necessary.  A full overview of our guidelines and measures will be available to the public as we near our opening day.

Gilmer Public Library takes the responsibility of providing safe access to library services seriously. Though the library has been closed, the staff is working to find ways to provide library services safely and reasonably. Questions concerning Safer-At-Home resources like ebook access, digital library cards, and online databases can be answered with a phone call to 304-462-5620. Comments and questions concerning our re-opening plan and newly adopted pandemic policy should be directed to Library Director, Lisa Minney, or one of our five board members. Questions can also be sent through our Facebook page, or to lisa.minney@clark.lib.wv.us.