By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s public library needs more space – both inside its building and for parking outside.
That message was recently delivered to Yukon City Council members.
“We do need more space for materials,” said Lee Wells, chair of the Yukon Park Board. “We really need more space for programming.
“It really curbs what our library can do for our population, not being able to do the programming that we want to do.”
Wells’ comments came in her Yukon Library Board report during the May 4th Yukon City Council study session.
Wells presented an annual update about Yukon library activities before discussing needs at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library, 1200 Lakeshore.
“And we need more parking,” she told council members. “I’ve addressed this with city council before. I was told it would cost very little to put something down so people could drive over and park in the grass to the right of the library, as long as the weather permits.
“Especially during times that we have programming for seniors in the library.”
Safety issues occur during well-attended programs at the City of Yukon’s library or the adjacent Dale Robertson Center, which share the parking lot.
At times, there is no parking space to be found.
For major events like the Yukon Chocolate Festival, Wells suggested that vendors and workers be allowed to park in the field directly west of the library.
“Then we would not see adults and children parking across the street and trying to run across the street to get to the Chocolate Festival and different activities that the city holds in those two buildings,” Wells said.
CHANGES DUE TO COVID
Wells, along with fellow library board members and Yukon Librarian Sara Schieman, attended the May 4th city council study session.
“The COVID-19 virus forced significant changes in our library, just like every place else in the world,” Wells told council members.
After closing in March 2020, Mabel C. Fry library staff redesigned their service model from in-person to virtual.
While closed temporarily last spring, Yukon’s library offered a curbside service so patrons could check out and pick up books and other materials.
A new online library card application process has worked so well it will continue.
Virtual programming started being offered last year through the library’s Facebook page, and that will continue until this fall’s schedule when in-person activities return.
Over the past year, the Yukon library has received grants totaling $32,750. Two grants were specifically for digital programming – to buy headphones, back drops and lighting. One grant funded personal protective equipment.
The Mabel C. Fry Public Library partially reopened in May 2020 and then returned to normal hours last July. Library staff continues today to wear masks while serving the public.
“With the CDC’s latest guidelines on COVID-19 transmission on surfaces, as of May 1, (library staff) has discontinued quarantining return materials,” Wells explained. “And they’ve returned to indoor book returns, as well as book returns outside.”
Yukon library staff members still clean returned materials, as they did before COVID, and still follow social distancing guidelines. Computers and iPads in the children’s area also are being used again.
“Tails and Tales” is the theme of the Mabel C. Fry Public Library’s annual summer reading program in June and July for Yukon children, tweens and teens. All youth programming will remain virtual this summer.
A new app will track how many students are participating in summer reading.
A POINT OF PRIDE
Yukon’s Mabel C. Fry Library has seven full-time and five part-time staff members.
Two employees, Stephanie Ogle and Shawna Deeds, finished their master’s degree this spring.
“So now we have six staff members with their master’s degree,” Wells said, “which is impressive for our town.”
The Yukon Park Board chair called this a “point of pride.”
Meanwhile, Internet Wi-Fi access is now available to the public not only inside Yukon’s library – but also in the parking lot and to the west of the building.
Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby told library representatives how impressed she has been with how many people the library serves.
“What you accomplished during COVID and all of our regulations was amazing,” Selby said. “You kept us safe, and you kept people reading.”
Wells – a retired Yukon school librarian – cited research providing the importance of reading.
“The most important thing for all children is to read and be read to, even as they grow,” she said. “Then they will establish listening skills.”
The Yukon Library Board meets quarterly. Members are: Lee Wells (chair), Jenah Hamilton (vice chair), Mary Moore, Jeanne Riggs, Margarate Albrecht, Inez Andrews, and Sue Kilmer.