By Carol Merrill
On Monday, June 7 the Corrales Library welcomed patrons in person for the first time in more a year. In the quiet shady park one young lady sat in the grass and leaned her back against a tree listening to something on her phone. Children played at the swings and slides. One person walked into the library in the first hour. Then more and more showed up. This cultural hub has awakened. A volunteer meets you at the door with a smile, a special Corrales mask, if you need one, hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes. And, the bathroom is open. That’s an important service. There is a plastic shield around the circulation desk to protect the volunteers checking out materials. Even with all the precautionary items here and there, it’s good to be back.
The graceful koi fish are swimming circles in their pool surrounded by green plants. The koi are the new emblematic motif for the library logo on stationery. The books on all the shelves in every room have never looked so untouched. They seem to be standing at attention. It’s as if they have been waiting for browsers to return. Now you can find that new copy of a favorite mystery writer. The Friends of Corrales Library held their traditional blow-out book sale in the park on the weekend of the Fourth of July. You find only one public computer available in the small computer room. There will never be five people in that tiny unventilated space. Later, when the internet access is improved, there will be computers spread around in the TeeRoom and the reading room.
Now that the library is open at last, you can check out up to 25 items at once if you are taking a trip this summer. That includes up to five new books and DVDs. Each room has an overhead sign with the number of people allowed in that part of the library. There are three hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) air filter machines, gifts from the Fire Department. The fans are noisy, but reassuring that the air is clean. They are humming along in the Children’s Room, the Southwest Room, and the Teen Room. Marian Frear, the head librarian, said it has been the weirdest year in her career. Whatever decision she made, someone was unhappy. For example, some were displeased when she closed the library. She decided to follow the lead of the Fire Department following the N.M. Department of Health guidelines. Now, when people bring books back, the staff leaves them on a special shelf for a few days to take care of possible contamination. The children’s summer reading program has begun. For the young ones there is an on demand virtual program “Unicorns: Break the Cage.”
For children ages 13-19 there is a competition “Words vs. Pictures” where contestants submit photos and a “Flash Fiction” piece. All submissions go to: firstname.lastname@example.org There are great prizes. Marian said, “We always give bikes to the little ones and there’s a really nice digital camera and other delights for the teens.” Check the website for details at Corraleslibrary.org.
A pre-school story hour will be held in the park every Wednesday at 10. It’s nice that the children can run around. Presently they don’t have toys out in the children’s area. They will bring them out slowly. After story hour families can check out books. You can purchase a hardback book for $2. But the free books have been out on the porch for months. People loved those during quarantine time. There were grab bags for the kids with little projects in a bag during lock-down. They were like little take-home art projects and were very popular. Friends of Corrales Library did a lot of work helping to assemble the grab bags for children. Explora Museum provided one activity which was sanitized owl pellets that you could dissect. There was a diagram of the bones you might find in the pellets.
Looking to the future, the Friends of Corrales Library (FOCL) are planning to put in a small building, an annex at the end of the parking area to store donated books and probably to provide some programming space as well. In addition Frear would like to see expanded wifi access so anyone in the park or in their car could use the internet. Frear said, “A zoom program isn’t quite the same thing as an in-person program. We may keep up doing some zoom programming because it turns out people like not having to drive, and you can go to the program in your pajamas.” The Spanish conversation group has picked up some members who are not local, so it is expected to meet hybrid fashion via Zoom and in the park. Normally the 10 to 15 members meet in the Southwest Room. The Spanish conversation group will be hybrid for now: zoom and in person. Good to know that our community library is resilient, ready to serve and sustain folks in Corrales.