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Summer reading programs hope to bring normalcy to kids

Durango library offers online platform, curbside pickup
The Durango Public Library is closed because of coronavirus restrictions, but it is offering an online summer reading program for youths and adults that allows participants a chance to track their progress and win prizes.

FARMINGTON – Summer vacation days typically bring barbecues, poolside hangouts and, for the more book-inclined children, summer reading programs at public libraries. But with library closures and concerns about COVID-19, how are libraries adapting their summertime staple?

The Durango Public Library remains closed to in-person visits, but it has adapted its free summer reading programs for youths and adults to an online platform.

“It really is as easy as reading, telling us how much you’ve read and getting prizes for it,” said Corinna Manion, youth services supervisor for the Durango library.

Participants create an online account and track their reading progress for a chance to win prizes. Children and teens have a reading goal to reach, receive a prize bag with a free book of their choice and are eligible for weekly prize bags and a grand prize bag at the end of the summer program, Manion said.

“Participation in the program has been lower than in recent years, which we expected,” she said of this year’s online platform. “But we still have an enthusiastic crew already participating and another month left in the program for new folks to sign up and earn prizes.”

Manion said the summer reading programs have been a way to get young people excited about reading and engaged with their community over the long summer months away from school. She said they are often an important “stop-gap” for summer learning loss. But more than that, the programs can be fun.

“I love summer reading at the library because it celebrates reading for fun or leisure rather than having to read a specific title or subject area,” she said. “It really emphasizes fostering the passion for reading and building lifelong learners.”

Because the summer reading program ends Aug. 1, Manion said it is not likely the library will host in-person events this year, but the library hopes to offer the regular summer programming next year.

The library is offering prizes for the program, courtesy of Maria’s Bookshop, Friends of the Library and the Durango Community Recreation Center, Manion said.

Curbside pickup from the library is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and people can place holds via email, phone or through the online catalog.

While the Durango Public Library remains closed without an opening date, the Farmington Public Library has been open for the past month. The library was able to open June 8, with certain public health precautions, under New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health order.

It is open to the public to check out books and other materials from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Computers, printing and other library services remain unavailable.

In addition to its summer reading program, the Farmington library offers a weekly take-home craft. Kids can pick up supplies from the library and complete the craft at home. Both the Durango and Farmington libraries are also hosting weekly virtual storytime on their social media channels.

The two libraries have both adapted services to meet the COVID-19 changes while still offering their free, kid-friendly programs.

“This year, I’m hoping summer reading can bring a sense of normalcy and structure for kids who have had, needless to say, a very strange 2020 so far,” Manion said.

lweber@durangoherald.com

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