Park event marks new chapter for CG Library

Readers can browse books in the pavilion or participate in a Storywalk through Bohemia Park.

As the season turns to spring, the Cottage Grove Public Library is hoping to entice the public to turn some pages.

The inaugural event of “Library in the Park” was held in the Bohemia Park pavilion on Tuesday (April 6), displaying crates of books on picnic tables.

“One thing we’re doing here is just trying to get more access to books for the public. And also do a little bit outreach,” said Head Librarian Natasha Chitow. “We understand that it’s not always easy to do curbside pickup or to pick out books that you want without actually seeing them in person. 

“So, we brought a little bit of the library here with us.”

The library provided gloves, sanitizer and masks so patrons could browse, check out, pick up curbside holds or sign up for library cards safely. The event is currently planned to continue every Tuesday through the summer.

Studies have shown the SARS-CoV-2 virus can stay on some library materials as long as seven days, said Chitow, so returned books are quarantined for a week.

Library in the Park also features a family-friendly “Storywalk,” a participatory activity in which readers can follow directions around the park as they read through a story. This week’s story was offered in both English and Spanish, directed mainly at a younger audience.

A children’s activity kit issued by the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History was also on hand for younger readers. The kit explores the prehistoric story of dinosaurs in Oregon.

“So kids get to learn a little bit more about the natural history of their state and have something to do to alleviate the boredom and not be constantly inundated with screen time,” said Chitow.

The Library in the Park event has come following a year of COVID-19 restrictions which have significantly limited the library’s services.

Closed last March, the library has since tried to accommodate the public within the boundaries of health and safety guidelines by offering limited computer services and curbside pickups.

Gradually, the library hopes to see more staff return as well, though there’s still no telling when exactly the library will see a reopening. Providing COVID rates continue to drop, there is hope doors will open within the next few months.

“[We’re] also trying to figure out what the library’s new normal is going to look like,” said Chitow, as library staff plan for summer activities.

The library is also providing services through an app called “Libby,” which allows the public to borrow and read ebooks and audiobooks from the library for free. The virtual library can also be accessed through Overdrive or Gale eBooks simply by entering one’s library card number and PIN.

“It’s just an entire world of books in your pocket,” said Chitow.

In addition, the Cottage Grove Public Library is trying to accommodate those who cannot leave their house by offering “Books on Wheels,” a delivery service for homebound residents in town.

To book a curbside pickup, call 541-942-3828, email [email protected] or log in with an online account at cottagegroveor.gov/library to request items.

Curbside services are limited to 15 items per pickup and can be located on the east side of the library building next to the outdoor book drop.

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