Library continues to serve community during pandemic |

Library continues to serve community during pandemic

Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the library is still connecting with the community through online resources and virtual events.
Mackenzie Hicks

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With everyone under a statewide stay-at-home order, Bud Werner Memorial Library is having to think outside the box to help the community stay connected while the doors stay closed.

“(It was) fast work to do a little reimagining of everything we do,” said Jennie Lay, the library’s adults program coordinator.

Lay started by looking at the library’s calendar and deciding what had to be removed or rescheduled and what events could be held virtually. She had to remind herself throughout the process that she wasn’t necessarily cancelling but simply postponing to a later date. It’s a tactic many event planners have been adopting as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

For Sarah Kostin, youth services librarian, her primary focus was continuing a sense of normalcy for the children’s whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down.

“I thought it was important for the kids to see me and Celina (Taylor) like they do every day,” she said. “Just because they can’t come to the library, they’re still going to have books, and they’re still going to have us.”

The usual story hours are still available for children now stuck at home. Little Crafters, Toddler Time, Preschool Storytime, Story Stretchers and Words in Motion are live-streamed on the library’s Facebook page at 10:30 a.m. during their regularly scheduled day Mondays through Fridays. Taylor and Kostin are still the faces of those days, and Kostin said lots of people are tuning in.

“Someone from Paris, France, joined me last week,” she said of her Story Stretchers livestream, which takes place every Thursday.

She is also encouraging kids to “Spring Into Reading” through Beanstack. The program is designed to motivate young children to read at home. Readers log hours and earn badges, and Kostin encourages parents to think of awards for their kids as they progress, like extra screen time, since the library isn’t able to handle prizes like they normally would.

April Activities
  • National Poetry Month Celebration: posted daily on Bud Werner Memorial Library’s Facebook page
  • Camp NaNoWriMo: a more relaxed version of National Novel Writing Month held in November
  • Stories from Home: a short story contest
  • Virtual Evenings with the Master Gardeners: begins April 14

Be on the lookout for online film screenings toward the end of the month. More information along with more activities and resources is available at

Lay has been just as busy working on programs for adults. She’s launched multiple programs to connect everyone, including Camp NaNoWriMo, a shorter version of the National Novel Writing Month program that takes place in November, and Stories from Home writing contest about this time in life, which gives winners a chance to be featured in the Short Story Dispenser when the library reopens.

Lay also reimagined a beloved annual event as a virtual experience. Beginning April 14, the library and Routt County CSU Master Gardeners will be hosting Zoom meetings to discuss all types of gardening in Routt County. The meetings will continue on consecutive Tuesdays for four weeks, turning the usual one-night expo into an extended learning event for free.

Michelle Dover, circulation manager, who also handles book clubs, has reimagined how to connect with community members. All of the book clubs have been transferred into Zoom-powered discussions. Dover has enjoyed the change as it’s allowed second-home owners who can’t travel to Steamboat a chance to participate and even brought in someone all the way from Columbia to discuss “Fruit of the Drunken Tree,” a book that focuses on that country in Pablo Escobar’s time there.

“It’s positive for me to see the book club manifest in a new way,” Dover said. “We’re maintaining that connection with one another.”

Storytimes for kids
  • Little Crafters: 10:30 a.m. Mondays
  • Toddler Time: 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays
  • Preschool Storytime: 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays
  • Story Stretchers: 10:30 a.m. Thursdays
  • Words in Motion: 10:30 a.m. Fridays

All story hours are livestreamed on the library’s Facebook page. All videos are kept for one week at for those unable to tune in live.

Lay, Kostin and Dover want the community to know the library is still there for them.

Dover has been working to help people get library cards or renew current cards, so that people can access all the books, magazines and more available online. Kostin is reminding parents of the library’s access to TumbleBooks for Kids, which offers audio reading of books to kids when parents might need a break, and Lay wants everyone to know the library’s wifi is still active.

“If people don’t have access to internet and need to file for unemployment or research something, they can always pull up, sit in their car and access it. We didn’t turn it off,” Lay said.

“The role of the library is always important,” Lay added.

Upcoming book clubs

Book: “The Immortalists”
When: April 14

Keep an eye on the library’s event calendar and Facebook page for more book clubs. Books are available through the library’s online collection.

To reach Mackenzie Hicks, call 970-871-4208, email or follow her on Twitter @mackenzieshawna.

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