Jun. 15—MILTON — Ronald Specht visits the Milton Public Library regularly to pick up a stack of books to read.
The retired Milton man who can read one to two books a day said he would miss the public libraries if anything ever happened to them. Many of the local libraries in Northumberland, Snyder, Union and Montour counties are nearly back to pre-pandemic normalcy and have adult, teen and children programming in place for the summer months.
"It would be terrible if they closed," said Specht on Tuesday at the library at 541 Broadway St., Milton. "It would be a loss for our communities."
Public libraries in 2020 canceled and postponed many of their services and switched to limited hours and access, some allowing patrons to order books and pick them up curbside. Library directors across the Valley said the programming was definitely missed by the people.
"At its core, the library is the community," said Milton Public Library Director Kris LaVanish. "We serve everybody. There are fewer and fewer places like that. When that is hampered or restricted, it's noticeable. Everyone uses the library. That's the cool thing about it."
The Milton Library is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Curbside pick-up will continue. Masks are required to be worn for everyone until the governor's new order takes effect.
"We are here to serve everybody, including those who chose not to be vaccinated," said LaVanish. "We are being thoughtful of our neighbors."
The summer programming will be lighter than previous years, and all events will be outside, she said.
For example, the library kicked off a summer reading and living history program where patrons can submit stories of the COVID-19 pandemic until June 7. On July 17, letters to participants' future selves will be collected for a time capsule.
On Wednesdays through July, children have a summertime storytime at 11:30 a.m. There will be an obstacle course June 23-June 30, a trail adventure on July 1, a TikTok egg drop on July 15 and the summertime wrap-up on July 17.
Adult programming includes a discussion about the flu pandemic of 1918 with Bucknell Assistant History Professor Jennifer Kosmin on July 10; gardening events on June 19, July 17 and Aug. 21; and a nature drawing workshop on June 19.
George Dieffenbacher, of White Deer Township, comes to the library twice a week to use the computer.
"It's peaceful here," he said. "I can get on a computer for a while. and there's air conditioning in the hot weather."
Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library Director Jeffery Johnstonbaugh said the library at 100 King St., Northumberland, is "pretty much" back to full-time hours except for Saturday. They are open Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Curbside pick-up is still available for anyone who is still reluctant to be in public.
"We adopted the state plan that masks should be worn for those who are not vaccinated," he said. "We're being cautious and hopefully everyone abides by what we set up."
Summer programming includes summer reading from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday with repeated programming at the same time on Thursday and Friday. Students can also join art club, Captain Nemo Oceans Club, Lego Club, video and tech club, girls club; pre-school students also have programming on Wednesday and Friday; and teens have programming on Thursdays with Box of Light Studio with Rand Whipple from Aug. 16-20.
"People missed it," said Johnstonbaugh. "We have a full schedule and we have a waiting list on our programs. That's a good compliment. We're on the swing back."
He said libraries are part of the community.
"When you take us out, it leaves a void with some families," he said. "It's quite an obstacle to overcome."
Degenstein Community Library Director Melissa Rowse said the library at 40 S. Fifth St., Sunbury, is "mostly back to normal." The library will remain open for 37 hours instead of 45 hours pre-COVID until the end of 2021 so it's consistent in the same year, she said. They are requiring masks for everyone until June 28.
"We still maintain curbside pickup," she said. "We still have moms with a sleeping child or those with mobility issues. We now have signs in the parking lot attached to posts for it. They just have to call us when they get to the parking lot."
The library hours are 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
"Programming is back up and running this summer," said Rowse. "We are doing all in-house programming with nice big guest appearances coming to the library. We are also offering a virtual program. If families don't have time to stop by they can do the virtual program and still participate. We just want to provide options for families. We want to encourage all children to read no matter where they are."
This year's summer reading theme is "Tails & Tales," which encourages all ages to continue reading through the summer. Children will be able to register for summer reading, meet great animals and volunteers from local rescue organizations, and participate in a number of activities.
New this year, the Degenstein Community Library will also be offering Page Turner Adventures Virtual program. Families can watch author interviews, field trips, interactive stories, and craft activities all online that will fit everyone's comfort and accessibility level.
Roberta Greene, director of the three libraries in Union County, said the Public Library for Union County at 255 Reitz Blvd., Lewisburg, is still closed for browsing until further notice due to the construction project, but still open for curbside pickup. A shortage of construction materials makes predicting the completion date unknowable at this time, Greene said.
Herr Memorial Library at 500 Market St., Mifflinburg, and West End Library at 45 Ball Park Road, Laurelton, are both open for browsing.
"We are continuing to ask folks to wear masks in the buildings," said Greene. "We serve all ages. There's a good portion of the population that does not have vaccinations yet. We are trying to keep this as safe a place for children as we can."
The library system started hybrid programming this month with in-person and virtual. There are weekly STEM activities at Herr; a reading challenge through Aug. 7; crafting events; and dozens of other activities.
The libraries' hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. West End is closed on Wednesday and Herr is closed on Friday.
Off to great startKathleen McQuiston, the director of Thomas Beaver Free Library in Danville, said the hours have been expanded as more and more people have started venturing out. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdya, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
"We had been offering most of our regular services," she said. "The exception being, programs and services that result in people congregating in the building. We will be relaxing those restrictions for adults over the next few weeks. For children, we are currently focused on activities that get them reading, activities we host outside, and activities bags they can take home. We have Story Time to Go Bags. It's a book they can check out, along with learning activities directly related to the book for the parents. We are also offering Craft and Activities to Go Bags."
She added, "We have kicked off Our Community Reads and Learns for the Summer. Our goal is to read over 100,000 minutes and we are off to a great start."
On Saturday, June 26, they are hosting Bookapalooza at the library, she said.
Ring to get inVisitors to the Snyder County Libraries have to ring doorbells to be let inside and the libraries are still requiring masks. The hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at Rudy Gelnett Memorial Library, 1 North High St., Selinsgrove.
At Beavertown Community Library, 111 W Walnut St., Beavertown, hours are 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, closed Wednesday and open noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
McClure Community Library, 4 Library Lane, McClure is open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays and closed Wednesdays.
The Middleburg Community Library, 13 N. Main St., Middleburg, is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays.
There is a summer reading program for both in-person and online.
On Monday, the libraries began the virtual part of the program, releasing the first video of six weeks worth of shows on the libraries' YouTube channel.
Library officials encourage readers to stop at their nearest branch to pick up craft materials and search for Max the Duck, who will be hiding in a new spot every day. Students who discover Max and tell a librarian earn a prize.