The Vision Marches On
by Myrna Griffith
The new year began much like any other year with the Board and Library continued having monthly board meetings. In January, the Board would met the City Council at the first of many budget meetings, where the 2020-2021 Library Budget would be approved after the city requested the budget be reduced by $2000. Zane Glade was appointed to the board and was slated to start in January. The director had been having difficulty making contact with him. By the end of January, Lynn Williams was able to make contact through Facebook. Zane’s first meeting was in February. The holiday fundraiser was a huge success and raised $3962, which would be used as matching funds for new grants. The Board and director began to make plans to digitalize the library’s collection of microfilm. The library had owned a microfilm reader, which had become unusable and was discarded the past summer. The new plan was to have the microfilm placed on the website and accessible to everyone for research. To do this, a grant needed written. Now that most of, if not all of the past project had be paid, the Board now dared to venture out again on other projects.
January’s Adult Program was Alice’s Ordinary People, a program on the Civil Rights Movement. 8 people attended. During Early-Out the K-5 group learned Sign Language, a person came from IPTV where the children were able to do STEM activities using motors, and Mike Havlik gave a program on Beavers. At the end of the month, the 7th grade Literacy classes did a field trip to the library. Three classes attended for a total of 60 students.
The February’s Adult Program, Iowa Confederates in the Civil War, had to be postponed due to illness of the speaker. A replacement speaker was contacted. Justin Allis presented his program on Forgotten World War II Dallas County Soldiers. David Connon came in March to do his program on Iowa Confederates. Late February, Myrna attended a workshop on Break Rooms. It was Myrna’s plan to have one for the Teens during Summer Reading. Work began with a group of the volunteers as a committee to looking the stored history collection and genealogy books. At that time the Local History and Genealogy Collection Development Policy was written and approved on March 2. Books in the Middle Grade (readers 6th-8th grade) and Junior Fiction (readers 1st and 2nd grades) sections were weeded to make room for newer books. Many of these books had not been checked out in 20 years. Lastly, Myrna looked at costs and places to have the digitalization work done and attended the annual Summer Reading Program workshop in Johnston to begin the planning. The work at the library continued moving forward.
In late February and early March, plans were made for the all the children and teens to come to library on different days and times during Spring Break to have a time for games and the use of the Wii and Xbox. The director had not been listening to the news nor watching television and was not aware of what had been announced around the world. Tuesday, March 17 just before 9:30am the volunteers began arriving to help with the ages 2-2nd grade group. The group never came. When no one came, that was when the director was first made aware of Covid-19 that was beginning to spread around the world. Many businesses had closed and jobs had been lost after from announcements and mandates from President Trump and Governor Reynolds. The volunteers eventually went home, but returned at 1:30 for the 3rd through 5th group but still no one came. The Fun Week at the library was cancelled.
The board members, those that were available, met and drew up a statement:
Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 the library would be closed. The Library Director
will be working at the library from 9-5 Monday through Friday, for anyone needing books or faxing service. Books may be picked up at the library, but none will be delivered. Please call for an appointment at 438-2636 Thank you for understanding during this time.
This policy was in effect until March 31 at which time further announcements
would be made.
Another announcement was issued from the board.
The Woodward Public Library, in a desire to continue to serve the community, will
remain open at this time limiting the number of people in the building to ten. Steps we
are taking to keep the community safe include:
Removing all toys, games, and puzzles from our children’s areas until further
Sanitizing library computers, printer, tables, chairs, door handles, and frequently
touched surfaces daily.
The meeting room in the library will not be available for groups.
All adult and children’s programs are cancelled until March 31st.
Other directives were given in this posted announcement.
The directives above came from the State Library from the information they had received from the Department of Health. Mandates continued to come from the governor. The board would hold ‘emergency meetings’ 3 times in March via conference calls. During one of these meetings, the decision was made, preapproved by the mayor, that the staff could choose to work or to not. Two chose to work at the library, while one opted to remain at home.
One of the announcements from the State Library was that the Library must have a deep and thorough cleaning. While the library was closed, two to three board members would come to the library to clean, they dusted nearly every book and book shelf. The director did the deep cleaning throughout the library and helped with the book dusting. She accomplished this work during the morning hours and library work during the afternoon hours. The cleaning was completed on April 28.
During the regular April board meeting, the director presented the Year in Review April 2019-March 2020. Prices were presented to the board with the names of two places who do digitalization. A Petty Cash Report was presented at that time that listed the cash on hand in the library and what each amount was used for. A Petty Cash Policy was presented at that time and adopted. The director and board sent a letter to the city council requesting that the amount of cash to be held in the library be raised from $200 to $400. The reply came back no, because of an audit directive.
It was during April the governor mandated that all libraries be closed. The library moved to Lobby Delivery of books. Patrons would call the library. The library would select the books, check them out, and place them on the bench in the lobby for patrons to pick up later in the day. It was decided to contact Nick Thompson to see if he could boost the internet signal remotely, during our closure or if he needed to come in to do it! The minutes do not reflect if this was done, but records indicate wi-fi use serged during April and May and remained high. A reopening plan was put in place and cleaning continued. The Summer Reading Program was planned in the anticipation the Library would be open in June.
The weeding of Junior Fiction and Middle Grade would be completed at the end of April. The Technology Committee completed their work on Edge. A Disaster Plan was written, approved and the director received her evaluation during this month.
At May’s board meeting met in person and was on Zoom. Spring Clean-up day (for the city) would be May 31. The director requested, to have the microfilm reader be disposed at that time and it was approved. Myrna presented ideas on how the Summer Reading Program would be conducted in June and July. Most of the special programs would be held virtually. Electronic Tablet Loan Policy, a Food Policy, and Public Participation Policy were approved. In mid-May libraries were partially opened, and the Woodward Library slowly reopened with shorten hours and a full staff.
June 8 was the first day of Summer Reading Program. Registration was June 2 1-5. Ages 2-5, 6 registered, K-5, 7 registered. Teens had not registered and no plans had been made. On Thursday 2 teens appeared, planning began immediately. June 9 was the first day for K-5. At first it appeared the library was over the mandated limit of 15 people, but actually 17 was the limit and 16 were present. During June attendance was 73. The Adult Program was cancelled. The Book Club returned and was held both June and July. Two special programs were held, one virtual (6 attended) and one held in person at city hall, 5 attended. July attendance was 8. Three special programs were held, one held at city hall, one held in the park, and one could be viewed via the library’s website.
On June 12, by the governor’s mandate the libraries could open 100%, The Library opened fully, but the toys and furniture remained in storage. The month of June, the director finished cataloging the backlog of books that Stephanie York was working on when she was director. The backlog had grown from 2015 through the following years, and now were finally on the shelves for everyone to enjoy. The cash locked drawer that had been purchased in 2015, was sold because it was never used.
At the July meeting it was decided to write grants for digitalization of the microfilm, proceeding with the more expensive business because of the look and ease of use in research. The second project would be a LED community sign.
During the time of closer and reopening, the Library saw an increase in patron sign-ups for cards, because the Woodward Library was the only one in the area actually open. The director received many comments of appreciation for being open and for being able to check out reading material.
In August the 141 Garage/Book Sale was held. Set up was on Thursday, August 6 and the sale on August 7 and 8 during library hours. The sale yielded $180. $18 went to the city and the rest to the Foundation to purchase books. The left over books were boxed up (about 10 boxes) and stored at Lynn Williams home. She used these to keep the Little Libraries in the community stocked.
On Tuesday, August 10, Woodward was hit with a devastating windstorm that would come to be known as a Derecho. The storm hit around 11 am and lasted close to 45 minutes. It would impact the community significantly. Every piece of property was affected, trees were down in every yard, and nearly every business on Main Street was touch in some way.
The Library building itself received no damage. The damage that did occur was on decorative brick that connects the Library to the building north of the library. That building had sustained major damage, as the west door blew through the building and opened up the east wall and deposited the wall into the street. In the pocket garden located south of the Library, the storm brought down four trees between the south building and the Library, and destroyed a park bench. After the destruction had stopped, the city and volunteers worked very quickly to open up the Main Street through town to allow people to move into and out of the city. Main Street is a state highway and was completely blocked on both ends of town due to downed trees.
Later in August two grants would be written and submitted to the Bock Foundation—one for the digital community sign and one for digitalizing the microfilm and placing it on the Library’s website. The Library received $1000 for the digitalizing the microfilm, but nothing for the digital sign. Jim Gough during this time donated two pictures. One picture depicts Main Street in its glory days—vintage late 1800’s to early 1900’s. The second is the corner building that was once, the Woodward State Bank—vintage about early 1900’s. The pictures will be hung in the library and placed in to the Library’s Woodward Historical collection.
The August Adult Program (Women and the Vote with Kathy Wilson) was held at the Methodist Church due to the space distancing mandate and was attended by 7. In August the Methodist Church banned the use of the facilities because of their policies during Covid-19. After searching for another suitable place, the September program was moved to the Library and set up to accommodate the 6 foot space mandate. The program was Holistic Nutrition with Mindy Duff and attendance was10. An Adult walking program was developed and began in September. Kathy Yager started to put together ideas for the next Holiday fundraiser.
In September, story time and Early Out would return. In the previous years, K-5 Early-Out group met in the meeting room due to the large space and the large tables for the numbers that attended. The teen group meet in the library proper because the size of the group was small. This year these groups were reversed. The K-5 group was spread out into smaller groups of 2-5 and were placed in different areas of the library working on different projects. The volunteers were assigned to help different groups around the library. The teen group was growing not only physically but in numbers, making the room crowded, even when numbers remained in the mandated limited range. In the early months, sometimes this group met outside in the pocket park.
The Early-Out groups met until mid-November, when the Covid-19 numbers began to rise. This made the volunteers uncomfortable to be around crowds. At that time the Early-Out group was suspended until vaccines were made available. The story time group continued going. The numbers went down. Some weeks no one came, though other time the attendance would be 2 or 3.
The fundraiser would be the ‘Festival of Wreaths’ but scaled down due to Covid. The wreaths would be displayed at the Library and the Trailhead Depot and there would be no candy/cookie sales. The displays placed in businesses would be limited. In October, Kathy Yager indicated that this would be her last year doing the Holiday Fundraisers. She also wanted to pass her volunteer coordinator work on to someone else. This was discussed and advertising was written. During December someone had come forward and expressing an interest in doing this. The advertising for this position was put on hold. The Volunteer Recruiter and Organizer was put on hold, as well, because Myrna had express an interest in hiring a part time person to be a Youth Services Librarian who would be able to do the children’s and teen’s programs. That was tabled until the time of writing next year’s budget.
At the October meeting, Myrna presented the Strategic Plan Progress Sheet to be discussed in preparation for writing the 2021-2022 budget. In November the board discussed wage increases with a look on how to bring the director’s wage in line with other C Libraries in the area and especially in Dallas County and the possibility of adding another staff person. It would be thoroughly discussed in future board budget meetings.
It would be in November that the library received word, that the Dallas County Health Department had received the grant needed to put on the program Harnessing the Power of Iowa Libraries. This project would be planned and implemented in the beginning of the new year. Lastly, Sandra Grubbs gave the Library a painting by artist Paul Micich to be displayed in the children’s area.
The December wreath fundraiser raised $3700 which was excellent during this time of a pandemic. The board worked on a budget that included the wage increases and the addition of a staff person. It was sent to the city council to await their approval.
Board Members serving 2011-2020:
· Linda Weyers Angie Hoyt Barbara Maier
· Jim Gough Jeanne Arends Gene Grell
· Terri Danilson John Maier Stephanie Dante
· Kathy Yager Kendra Spoelstra Lynn Williams
· Brian Ridler Sandy Seeman Teresa Neal
· Kathy Butler Sandra Dickson David Elliott
· Zane McGlade
During the days, weeks, and months of Covid-19, all libraries experienced a steady decline of circulation and visitations to the libraries. Many libraries closed all together, many for up to a year. Those libraries would do virtual programing and have continual curbside pick-up and delivery. Libraries were required to sanitize every check out, returned item and to quarantine the item up to three days. Staff worked either from home or at the library. Those working in the Library were away from one another in different areas around the library. Every library’s statistics were significantly low during this year. Each librarian would wonder if the numbers would return to the levels they once were.
Some libraries, were growing and beginning remodels or new buildings. This was a best case scenario. They could be closed and not have to do work in stages or have their collections become an inconvenience for patron but it still was an issue. Staff were there for their patrons and their communities. Everyone would continue carry on, patiently waiting for the pandemic to end.
The Woodward Public Library experienced all of these issues. As with the rest of the library world, our library statistics were very low. Circulation and attendance were very low. The library still remains steadfast in its commitment to serving its constituents, as the decade comes to the close. Y2K did not affect the library, it kept going. Covid-19 and the Derecho may have slowed the library down but it remains committed in its vision to serving Woodward and its citizens. Even now as the second decade comes to a close, the library is staying abreast of new technology. New upgraded computers will be installed in the coming year. The library continues to bring in new books—current best sellers, current nonfiction—print books, audio books, and electronic books for its readers. Programming is being planned for lifelong learning for all ages.
Lastly, our library is staying current and is always planning and preparing for the future. Even now, research is under way for how to expand the library. The Library has space issues everywhere for books, DVDs, audio books, technology, and more. Space is especially needed for programing. The library is looking for ways to enlarge the library through an addition or a move. Woodward has a beautiful library. It is the board’s hope to keep it that way, but make it better. The library is planning for the future and the next generation.