Let’s celebrate National Library Week

Bethel Library JV Jalea Milford (at right) and Julia Rodriguez deliver food for the Food Bank this past week. Photo courtesy of Theresa Quiner/Kuskokwim Library.

by Theresa Quiner

Every year, libraries around the country celebrate National Library week in April. This year, National Library Week is April 19th-25th. While we are saddened that the physical library is currently closed while we all shelter in place, there is still much to celebrate.

The building is closed, but this is a good reminder that the library is more than just a building. Libraries are about community, and connecting the community to information, resources, and each other. The Kuskokwim Consortium Library is actively working in many ways, and we will continue to adapt our services for the community until the time when we are able to see you again. Like libraries across the country, we are shifting our focus to digital and online resources so that we can continue to provide access to information and books. We have moved some of our budget into purchasing additional titles for our Alaska Digital Library account which will drastically cut down wait times on popular books.

The Statewide Electronic Doorway, which can be accessed through the library website at https://www.uaf.edu/bethellibrary/, has added many resources to the site. Romance lovers will want to check out the Romance Book Cloud, Do-It-Yourselfers will want to check out the many resources including the Home Improvement Reference Center, and parents will want to check out the many resources for children including Live Homework Help. There is even a new video streaming service called Access Video on Demand.

We are also going to be rolling out regularly scheduled online programs through Zoom in the coming months for adults and youth so that we can continue to connect with each other while learning together. On Tuesday, April 21st we start our “Hunker Down with a New Hobby” series, and UAF Cooperative Extension Agent Leif Albertson will join us for a session on Gardening Basics, and on April 28th he will join us for Canning Basics.

Other upcoming programs in the series will include an introduction to using a sewing machine and learning to cook a delicious meal with one of our Taste of Bethel home chefs. Don’t forget that summer is just around the corner, and we will be using a new online platform to run our Summer Reading Program. Make sure your kids know that there will still be prizes!

The library’s wonderful Jesuit Volunteer Jaela Milford, whose role with the library is to improve access to community resources for low income, unemployed, and homeless residents, has diverted a lot of her time to continuing to provide access to the Food Bank during this time. She and her JV roommates have been packing food and delivering much needed food to over 160 homes while maintaining safe social distancing protocols.

In addition to National Library week, Thursday, April 23rd is #LibraryGivingDay. Please consider making a donation to our “Friends of the Kuskokwim Library” fund with Bethel Community Services Foundation. This year, we are trying to raise $7500 to start a Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Bethel. $7500 will enable 300 Bethel kids ages 0-5 to receive one free book per month for a year, delivered directly to them. We hope to grow this program to include other communities in the YK Delta in coming years.

Please reach out to us any time if you have ideas for ways that we can connect the community to needed resources during this time. We look forward to seeing you all again in person. Quyana.

Theresa Quiner is the Library Director for the Kuskokwim Consortium Library.