Jefferson Davis Parish Public Library

Growing Pains

No doubt about it, this summer has NOT been normal. Who could have foreseen a summer reading program that was entirely virtual? A June without summer camps or VBS. Bookmobile visits cancelled and outreach to nursing homes put on hold. But despite the challenges, we managed to host some amazing talent and provide fun take-home activities every week. And best of all, we learned how to do new things.

I want to take a minute to brag on the Jeff Davis Parish Library staff, who adapted so quickly it almost looked effortless. Creating a YouTube channel, filming virtual story times and editing videos, figuring out the difference between Facebook Live vs Facebook Premiere, adding online registration — that was all new for us. Add to that the fact that during this time we launched a new website and monthly newsletter, switched to a domain system and upgraded our Wifi, and some people might think we’ve gone and lost our minds! I’m not sure whether to be excited or scared to see what we’ll accomplish when things go back to “normal.”

Looking ahead into July, we’ve extended the Summer Reading Program through July 17, so the kiddos have more time to read & submit their reading logs. Virtual programs will continue with Facebook Story Times and a new series of short videos called “Cooking with Librarians.” I’m especially excited about the cooking videos, because staff are doing these from home (often with family) and each one is very different as we are learning various video editing techniques as we go.

We are slowly re-introducing programs inside the library. Grab & Go activity bags will continue to be available each week at every library. We’re also partnering with Breakthroughs Etc. to host small group sessions for teens in Welsh and Lake Arthur. Renovations are under way at Lake Arthur Library, to add a small meeting/quiet room & converting to mobile bookshelves that will allow for a more adaptable space. Renovations are also under way at 137 N. Main in Jennings to create a shared Arts & Learning Center in partnership with the Zigler Foundation & Museum & the Industrial Development Board of Jennings.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been spending a lot of time revamping our collections. We ordered a HUGE amount of popular children’s books which arrived just in time for summer. We’re renegotiating contracts and saving money by switching vendors.

Bookmobile routes have resumed, with social distancing measures in place. Outreach librarians are providing materials to homebound residents and delivering items to nursing homes when allowed. Our services to seniors has been the hardest hit and is what weighs heaviest on our minds. Staff are reaching out by phone when they can, but it’s just not the same.

Yes, our current situation is not ideal, but we are adapting and learning new skills that we may not have ever learned if necessity hadn’t forced us to. So on behalf of JDP Library, we say “thank you COVID, now move along.”

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