I read my first novel at the age of 10. The novel was the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I checked the book out from a satellite library that was across the street from where I lived. That book is relevant today in the age of COVID 19 because it focuses on the discrimination of the Okie (from Oklahoma) migrant farmworkers who would now be considered essential workers. The novel also taught me about the need to advocate for social justice. I am who I am today in part because the library had that novel for me to read. This illustrates how the library can have many influences on all members of our community. I would like to highlight a few programs that the Watsonville Library has had to initiate while we are in Shelter in Place during this pandemic.
Since March 16th the library has had to become creative in ways to continue serving our community because it closed. I will list several activities to describe what the library is now doing:
• The library website now has a “Virtual Library” for all. With your library card you can access eBooks, audiobooks, classes, databases and other reference resources
• Patrons can request online books and materials through the library catalog or by leaving a phone message or a reference request. All materials are sanitized before given out. The library will also mail books/materials to those who cannot leave their home.
• There is a changed due date for all materials to May 30th. Fines will not accrue and materials will not need to be returned until the library is opened
• If community members do not have a library card they can apply and receive a library card number online
• The library added resources for children. TumbleBooks offers a variety of different types of books; Health, Hygiene, and Everything in Between, Quick Reads, Graphic Novels, Read-Alongs, Tumble Tunes, and many others
• In addition, the children’s library staff have created craft kits for young children which can be picked up at curb-side at the library
• That’s not all. A Virtual Baby Lap Times has been created and is accessible on YouTube
• If you are looking for books about COVID 19 to read to children or talk to them about it you can contact the NYC School Library System. It has a variety of books all free to download: https://nycdoe.libguides.com/COVID.
The Watsonville Public Library in partnership with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries offered a four-part series entitled, Shelter in Faith. The series brought together 16 Santa Cruz County leaders of diverse faith traditions, perspectives, and practices to help with Sheltering in Place. The four themes that were addressed were Crisis in Recovery, Grief and Loss, Separation and Connection, and Meaning and Productivity. I had the privilege of being the moderator for the Meaning and Productivity session. The four panelists included Buddhist, Islam, Christian and Catholic. It was interesting to note how many of the panel member answers aligned with the other religions. The series took place via Zoom, but can now be found on YouTube.
The Director and library staff are working to make plans for the reopening of the library to ensure that the public and the staff are safe from Covid-19. However, reopening the library is going to depend on the restrictions that they will need to put in place. For example, they won’t be allowing the meeting room and conference room to be available until social distancing restrictions are removed. Study rooms will only be used by only one person at a time. Some computers will have to be disabled to allow for six feet between users. Hours may need to be limited at first. However, the BiblioVan will be used to go out to the community, especially the Senior Center, to take books/materials to different locations. They are so many unanswered questions that need to be addressed before a full opening can take place. For updated information on what’s available at the library go to www.watsonvillelibrary.org.
There are so many benefits to accessing the library. For me, it was reading a book that influenced who I became. For you, it could be accessing a free book for leisure reading, or accessing free internet, or it could be accessing legal forms. There are so many activities and opportunities provided by a library. Whatever the reason, the library is a valuable asset to our community. Be sure to support it and utilize it.
Mayor’s Update is a recurring column from Watsonville’s Mayor, Rebecca Garcia. Her opinions are her own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian. Contact Garcia at [email protected]