Tecumseh library reopens, begins summer programs

Elisabeth Slay
While the Tecumseh Public Library does not require masks, they encourage patrons to wear them and maintain the six feet apart distancing rule.

On May 18 the Tecumseh Public Library reopened to the public and along with social distancing polices, the library has also started several of its virtual summer learning programs.

According to Tecumseh Library Branch Manager Beth Lyle, since it reopened there have been several patrons who've visited the library to use its computers, print documents, check out books and utilize other services.

"(Traffic) has been pretty steady but definitely a lower amount of traffic as compared to previous years," Lyle said.

The branch manager explained while people are allowed to be in the building, many safety measures have been put in place to protect the community from spreading COVID-19.

"We encourage people to wear masks. We don't require it. We also have the six foot social distancing markers around the building," Lyle said. "We removed lots of furniture and computers so that we wouldn't have things so close together."

Lyle said the library has also blocked of its collection to browsing and anyone who wishes to check out a certain item can receive help from a staff member.

Along with these polices and measures, Lyle said library employees wear masks and a sneeze guard was installed to protect both staff members and patrons.

Lyle said in addition to physically visiting the library, many members of the community are using the library's online services and downloading books, movies, audio books and other items.

In fact, Lyle explained throughout this whole week the Pioneer Library System has released new summer programs on their Facebook page and YouTube channel.

"We're having to do it all digital this year and...each day this week we launched a different summer reading program. So we've done ones about the Wizard of Oz, hula hooping, art and making slime," Lyle said.

For children who participate in the summer reading programs, Lyle said if they visit the Pioneer Library System app and log their points for watching the videos and reading they can earn various badges and win prizes

"Our staff members will actually call them...and they can come up to the library and get (their prize) so it's kind of a fun thing where we can still do a little bit of the fun that we usually have during the summer," Lyle said.

The library professional said reading is an important tool to help people cope and stay mentally active during this difficult time and the library is happy to provide those needed services.

"I think books are a life line. (Reading) is a calming thing and it's good for our brains and it's just wonderful to be able to stay connected a little bit," Lyle said.

In addition to launching the summer reading programs, Lyle said this week Tecumseh's library received funds from a Oklahoma Department of Libraries Health Literacy Grant.

"It was for the whole year and we had planned to use it for all these exercise programs and cooking programs, but we can't host any programs right now," Lyle said.

Lyle said the library isn't hosting in-person activities from now until August 31, but Tecumseh has to use its grant funds before then.

"We were able to reallocate some of our grant funds to get two iPads and antimicrobial cases to put those in so now the residents (of Heritage Skilled Nursing and Therapy Home) will be able to FaceTime with their family and friends," Lyle said.

Overall Lyle said she is hopeful that the library will be able to help people through this pandemic and she's happy the library is open again and offering services to the people of Tecumseh.

For more information on Tecumseh Public Library's curbside pick up option, new hours of operation and other services visit pioneerlibrarysystem.org/choose-a-library/tecumseh.