MUSCATINE, Iowa–As the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect eastern Iowa, staff at the Musser Public Library sensed closures coming and began taking steps to bring their programming online. “We actually started filming our programs a long time ago,” said director Pam Collins. Through hard work and adaptation, library staff have provided continuity to their patrons by bringing them the programs they love in a format they can enjoy outside of the library, via either the library’s Facebook page or Muscatine Power and Water cable.
For Youth services director Betty Collins, keeping programming consistent mattered tremendously, as it could provide something familiar for young children during this uncertain time. “We’ve tried to get nearly 100% of our programs available,” explained Betty Collins. “What we really want to do is provide a sense of normalcy and continuity,” added Pam Collins. This includes recorded sessions of lap sit, preschool story time, Spark Plugs family science programming for those with children ages four to eight, Science Sibs, and Skeleton Key Adventure Club for kids ages eight to 12. Thanks to increased funding from the Carver Foundation, Skeleton Key has expanded from a monthly activity led by a University of Iowa graduate student into a weekly event.
Additionally, two new children’s programs have come online to help parents keep little ones home from preschool and school busy during the day. Each week, Imagination Corner gives parents ideas for how to set up a symbolic play area in their home, such as a library or restaurant, and encourage kids to imagine themselves visiting that space. Toddler Time Crafts provides simple art projects that parents can lead their children through using only materials commonly found at home.
While many of the library’s online offerings cater to young patrons, the library has adult programming and reading materials available too. Recordings of Cayleen Pagel’s extremely popular tai chi go up daily. Adult library goers may also enjoy the library’s blog, now available on their website, which provides up to date information on programs and services. The recently added COVID-19 information page provides current information about the virus as well as news on national, state, and local regulations.
While the library has always offered access to may online resources such as e-books and audio e-books; free music downloads and streaming; and a wide variety of databases, many people may never have investigated them before. With the library closed to the public, Assistant Director Robert Fiedler invites patrons to try them out. For those who would like assistance accessing resources, Fiedler created Musser Public Library Academy,which offers video tutorials for using each offering.
Right now, the library plans to keep all their programming online for the foreseeable future: “We’re you library. We’re with you. We wish we could have you in the building, but we know we can’t, so we still want to be with you,” stressed Pam Collins. However, when they can return to in person programming, they plan to post updates on their website and Facebook.