Tag: RARE AmeriCorps Program

A New Kind of Busy at the Library

By Katie Fischer, Outreach Services, Roseburg Public Library

Author and fellow RARE member standing by a river, backs to camera

On March 15th, Roseburg Public Library closed to the public in response to COVID-19.

In the days leading up to closure, everything was a whirl of preparations. The system had to be reconfigured to halt any overdue book notifications and late fees, a slew of events and room reservations had to be cancelled, and a never-ending stream of patrons came in to stock up on books and entertainment (in fact, the day before we closed turned out to be one of our highest rates of check outs in one day).

The library went from near freneticism to dead quiet overnight. Walking among the stacks now, it almost feels like the library is sleeping, waiting for the day when we can open our doors again. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that the staff has nothing to do – we’re still striving to keep the Roseburg community connected and reading.

To bring books to patrons in a safe manner, we’ve started a weekly drive through pickup service. I spend a good chunk of my time preparing for said book pickup, pulling hundreds of holds that patrons request throughout the week leading up to pick up day. For example, for our most recent book pickup, the staff prepared 512 books, DVDs, and audiobooks. However, the time and effort are well spent, because every Thursday afternoon, we receive a line of patrons in cars excited for their weekly stack of books for the whole family. It is a genuinely heartwarming experience to see that enthusiasm and gratitude from our patrons when they see the books we’ve brought out for them.

Beyond the weekly book pickup, we are also trying to provide the Roseburg community with the necessary resources for learning and literacy. Beyond the library staff remotely helping patrons to sign up for library cards by phone and through email, Youth Librarian Aurora Oberg puts out daily social media posts to keep kids engaged while stuck at home. Past posts include learning about dinosaurs by exploring the Smithsonian’s free-to-access virtual photo collection of fossils, learning about trains by watching videos of real train rides throughout the world, online tours of famous museums and sites such as a pharaoh’s tomb, videos featuring children’s authors hosting Q & A’s and reading their books, and worksheets for chapter books to help with reading comprehension. In the near future, our Youth Librarian will also be posting online storytimes, so that kids and parents who enjoyed our weekly storytimes in the past can do so again without leaving home.

In addition, Roseburg Public Library staff are using this time to get ahead on various projects, and prepare our collection for reopening. For example, Library Director Kris Wiley has been working on collection development, a never-ending project that requires expertise and care. We’ve also been ordering plenty of new materials, for children and adults alike, so that they have new books and movies to enjoy not only for pickup, but also for when we’re open to the public. On the back end of things, I’ve been working on fixing up our catalog so that patrons can find the materials that they want more effectively.

Ultimately, life at the library is still busy to an extent. It’s been rewarding and fulfilling to see the services and resources we can still provide despite being closed. Regardless, I’m excited for the library to reopen later this summer, doing what it does best – serving the Roseburg community.

Photo of the author. She is wearing a bright tie-dye shirt and standing in front of a red flowering currant.About the author, Katie Fischer: Katie has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from University of Oregon in Eugene, OR. During college she volunteered with the Eugene Public Library’s Maker Hub and worked as an undergraduate researcher for UO’s Soil + Water Lab, where she completed a year-long research project analyzing soil contamination in agricultural topsoil. Despite being born and raised in Minnesota, she now considers herself an Oregonian, and looks forward to exploring everything Oregon has to offer.

Next Level Community Engagement

By Morgan Murray, Program Manager, City of Warrenton

Author reading a children's book to a group of kidsThis is a short story about The City of Warrenton on the north coast of Oregon.  Most folks are sleeping on the magic that is this rural community.  They come here to buy their groceries at one of the four large box stores and maybe a frosty from the Wendy’s with the loooooong line at the drive thru window before heading back home.

I am the fourth RARE to be place with Warrenton.  The first 3 all completed their terms of service before 2010, so it has been 10 years since Warrenton and the program have collaborated.

The first three RARE participants all built out an extensive park and trail system.  I am continuing that work but I am also building capacity and excitement within the community for more engagement and events.

Warrenton has not had a large-scale event before but this year we hosted the first ever Fall Festival.  Roughly 4,000 people attended, from all over Washington and Oregon.  We even had a group of tourists from Morocco hear about the event while they were in Portland and came to check us out.

In the winter we hosted a tree lighting ceremony, dinner with Santa, and a craft night.  We also had/have plans for the spring and summer for more events that were/are estimated to draw in more than 12,000 folks from all over.  The current pandemic has postponed many plans for more events but luckily the work that former RAREs completed has allowed our community to enjoy the 26 miles of trails that link our city.

Author and supervisor standing in RARE gear holding a sign for the City of WarrentonThe RARE program breathes life into these rural environments and helps add the capacity to achieve next level community engagement.  The potential exists in each community and partnering with the RARE program is a wonderful way to catalyze your passion for creating a lasting impact.

Photo of the author smiling in front of a red flowering currantAbout the author, Morgan Murray:Morgan hails from the tiny town of Steuben, NY. She attended The College at Brockport and earned a degree in Therapeutic Recreation where she had the opportunity to complete her clinical at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. Through this experience Morgan realized how important planning and policy are to creating effective and lasting changes in the built environment—something that must be done to improve accessibility. Morgan is passionate about inclusion, sustainability (economic, equitable, and environmental), and universal accessibility. She is confident that through service with RARE she will discover creative ways to engage the community in conversations surrounding these growing issues. Morgan is a recreation enthusiast and lover of all things outdoors. In her free time she can be found riding her bike, skiing, kayaking, or camping. Morgan’s favorite tree is a Blue Spruce but she gives major props to Cedar trees.