ITHACA, NY -- The Tompkins County Public Library (TCPL) continues to remain a focal point for recreation and connection within the community with its efforts to provide virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in April of last year, then-Poet Laureate Melissa Tuckey reached out to the TCPL to put on a virtual haiku workshop. Since its success, the TCPL has continued to move its past events to online as well as provide new events with and without a literary focus.
“What’s happened is there’s organizations reaching out to us because we form a partnership, [their event] gets better promotion, and they get their reach out further,” said Teresa Vadakin, a librarian and head of Adult Services at TCPL.
Many of the events found on the online schedule at the TCPL’s website will be familiar to the community, such as its book clubs and story-time reading. Reader Advisory, another service original to the TCPL, has also been altered for virtual access in the form of “Book a Librarian.”
“So because we can't really have people coming in and sitting with a librarian, we have them doing it virtually on Zoom with the librarians that are in charge of that specialty. It's basically individualized services for people that we've always offered, but now we're able to do it virtually,” Vadakin explains. Some other events include “Virtual Mid-day Mindfulness Meditation,” “Virtual ESL Talk Time,” “Virtual Coding Club for Tweens” and many more that can be found on the TCPL website’s online calendar.
The schedule also includes virtual clubs, storytimes, workshops and other kinds of events for all age groups. As the head of Adult Services at the TCPL, Vadakin has found an increase in participation and attendance at some of the adult events that had been held in person pre-COVID.
“I think that might be because I know, as a full-time worker, when I get out of work, I don't want to go somewhere else. But it's easy to go home and just get my book open and start talking with local people.”
Those in charge of the tween and children’s age groups have also found an increase in active participation and attendance at their virtual events.
“The tween librarian Alice Ball said that the kids who normally wouldn’t talk in front of a group in a book club are more comfortable talking online,” Vadakin said.
The library is not only providing prerecorded family story times, they are also holding virtual events such as Mandarin story time and science trivia for the children’s age group. Anyone looking for recreation for the whole family while remaining socially distanced can find something of value at the TCPL.
The library’s ability to connect with the Tompkins County community in the face of our COVID reality is a testament to the library’s long-standing reputation.
“I think it took a while to build up to where we are now,” Vadakin said. “But I think it's really come together nicely. At first I think we were kind of frozen. But as time has gone on, and more people have reached out to us and we also have our own programs that we've always done, it's just made a really good combination of so many offerings for people in the community.”
In the event that the library can fully reopen again, the staff hopes to continue their virtual offerings due to their success while they resume their in-person events and welcome the community back into their doors.
For more information and a full schedule of virtual events, visit tcpl.org/events/upcoming.