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Keep busy with Utica’s summer reading program

Library reopens with limited services, capacity

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 7, 2020


UTICA — The Utica Public Library’s summer reading program is back, and if you’re looking for some fun that will keep you busy during the next few weeks, you might want to check out the program.

The library has hosted the program for many years during the summer, and it always has activities for children and offers prizes to win.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, things will be different for the program this year.

Marsha Doege, the director of the Utica Public Library, said that the library has changed up the program to work with the current environment.

“We are doing a modified Summer Reading program with activities and crafts kids can do at home, and book kits they can check out since there is no browsing in the library until the week of July 6,” Doege said in an email. “Parents can place holds on materials from home, or have us do it and, after they’ve been (been) notified of arrival, call us from the library parking lot and we’ll bring their items to the door. We know parents and children have had a rough spring semester with school switching to online, so we’re trying to make everything as smooth and simple as possible for them.”

This year, the summer reading program began June 22 and will go through July 25.

Each Monday, there will be packets that will include a weekly reading log, challenges, activities and crafts available at the library for pickup.

“This year, we did a very dialed-down summer reading,” Katherine Francis, the children’s services coordinator at the Utica Public Library, said in an email. “With the sudden change in children’s schooling and the mounting parent frustrations with the online learning this year, I wanted to do something that didn’t require too much. My focus was on activities that would keep children busy at their convenience and parents won’t have to keep track of a bunch of papers and schedules. We opted out of virtual programs because we have a fair amount of patrons that don’t have internet and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. We are offering curbside pickup so patrons can call the library and request the number of packets (one per child), and we will have them available when they arrive.”

Children can turn in their reading logs anytime before July 27 to be entered into a raffle for prizes. The prizes will be gift cards of varying amounts for local businesses.

Anyone who would like to participate in the program and would like to receive a packet (one per child while supplies last) can call the library between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to request a curbside pickup of the supplies.

You must have a library card to participate in the program.

For more information on the program or the book bundles, call the library at (586) 731-4141.

The Utica Public Library was scheduled to open July 6 with limited services — only browsing and checking out items. There is no use of services such as computers or copiers yet. The library will be limiting access to no more than four people at a time, so patrons will need to knock on the door or call from the parking lot for entry into the building.  

The library is asking patrons to limit visits to 10-15 minutes. The library will be open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, and 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays. The library will gradually add other services as the weeks progress based on the status of the virus.

The library will continue curbside delivery of items for patrons interested in that service.