What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in July

Have you signed up for the Summer Adventure summer reading program yet? Everyone from babies through adults can participate – there’s still time to register! Each challenge completed this summer gets you an entry into our big prize raffles, what are you waiting for?

Audrey Mae Bluegrass Ensemble in concert at Mixville Park

Wednesday, July 6, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Audrey Mae Bluegrass Ensemble features the duet harmonies of bluegrass veterans Peter Winne and Joe Delillo accompanied by the tasteful stylings of banjo player Joe Lemeris and fiddler-mandolinist Sam McDougle. Admission to Mixville Park is free for concert attendees.  Just tell the staff at the entrance gate that you are there for the concert.  The concert will begin at 6:30, but you are welcome to come early and enjoy a picnic or a stroll at beautiful Mixville!  Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and some bug spray. There is no rain date for this concert.

Pet Professions

Thursday, July 7, 2022, 3:00 – 4:00pm

This program presented by the Connecticut Humane Society will teach middle school and high school students about the many careers related to animal welfare. Participants will get an overview of the different professions at animal welfare organizations. For teens in grades 5-12. Registration is required.

Farmer’s Bounty Cooking Workshop

Thursday, July 7, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

What better way to enjoy summer’s harvest than cooking the food from your local farmers; learning about fresh produce, juices, breads and specialty items; and then creating and enjoying a meal based upon the ingredients of the season and that week. Dishes prepared will depend on what’s available locally. Discover the joys of the slow food movement– taking time to enjoy your local produce, and realizing the power of the kitchen to bring people together for kinship, culture, and culinary delight. Registration is required.

Loft Knitters

Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our monthly knitting group. Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters.  All levels of adult knitters’ welcome, please bring your own yarn and knitting needles. Registration is required.

BOOM (Band of Old Men!) in concert at Mixville Park

Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a fun concert for all ages!  BOOM is a locally-based rock band that plays classic hits from the 1960s and 1970s. The group is made up of George Meyers of Cheshire, Larry Rifkin of Prospect, Vern Coles of Norwalk and Haig Papasian of West Hartford. Admission to Mixville Park is free for concert attendees.  Just tell the staff at the entrance gate that you are there for the concert.  The concert will begin at 6:30, but you are welcome to come early and enjoy a picnic or a stroll at beautiful Mixville!  Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and some bug spray. Rain date: July 14.

Pirates: Lost at Sea

Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 5:00 – 5:45pm

Ahoy there, matey! Set sail with Talewise on a thrilling action-packed adventure about a crew of quirky pirates marooned on a desert island. Throughout the story, we’ll explore the incredible science behind clouds, physical and chemical changes, air pressure, and more! This program is best for kids in grades K-6. Registration is required.

Drawing for Teens: Dragons 

Thursday, July 21, 2022, 3:00 – 4:30pm

So, you want to draw a dragon, but don’t know where to start? Artist, Robin McCahill from Artsplace, will share tips for creating fantastic dragons from your imagination! You’ll be designing your own creatures in no time! For teens in grades 5-12. Registration is required.

Christmas Markets of Europe

Thursday, July 21, 2022, 6:30 – 7:45pm

It’s Christmas in July!  Join us as we learn about the magic of European Christmas markets. This informative program will introduce you to the main Christmas markets in countries like Austria, Germany, Italy, and beyond.   Enjoy beautiful photography as well as New Year’s customs and traditions of each country.  Presented by Lisa (Cisero) Phillips of Bella Europa Travel. Registration is required.

Nowashe Village: A Day in the Life

Wednesday, July 27, 2022, 3:00 – 4:15pm

Travel back in time to the Woodland period of the central Connecticut River Valley, when the bow and arrow became popular hunting tools, clay pottery was invented, and Indigenous Peoples began to rely more on an agricultural way of life. Each participant will grind native corn with a stone mortar and pestle and learn how to properly cook corn cakes. Presented by Nowashe Village. For children and teens in grades K-6. Registration is required.

The Nields in concert at Mixville Park

Wednesday, July 27, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Described by one reviewer as “equal parts Beatles, Cranberries and Joni Mitchell”, the Nields have released 17 albums, and performed with The Band, James Taylor, Dan Zanes, 10,000 Maniacs, and the Indigo Girls. dmission to Mixville Park is free for concert attendees.  Just tell the staff at the entrance gate that you are there for the concert.  The concert will begin at 6:30, but you are welcome to come early and enjoy a picnic or a stroll at beautiful Mixville!  Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and some bug spray. Rain date: July 27.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in June

Our Summer Adventure summer reading program for kids and adults kicks off on June 1. Sign up to receive a packet of activities & challenges, then turn in completed packets to be eligible for fabulous prizes!

Open Art Studio

Fridays from 1-3pm, May 6, 13, 20, 27

Bring your works in progress and supplies to this weekly drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup (please do not bring turpentine).

Remembering D-Day (2 part series)

Historian Kelvin W. Cole will be here for two nights June 6 & 13 to discuss the historic events of D-Day and Normandy.The fall of Western Europe to the Nazis and the construction of the defenses and “The  Atlantic Wall” in their bid to keep it. The “Perfect Storm” of events that descended upon the Nazis’ “Fortress Europe” and resulted in the Allied victory with the collapse and German surrender eleven months later. Registration required for each program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, June 9, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Registration is required.

Loft Knitters

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our monthly knitting group. Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters.  All levels of adult knitters’ welcome, please bring your own yarn and knitting needles. Registration is required.

Dance Party at Mixville Park

Friday, June 17, 2022, 5:00 – 8:00pm

We’re kicking off our Summer Adventure Reading Program at Mixville Park with a fun dance party! There will be activities for all ages including, a DJ, lawn games, balloon twisting, volleyball, gaga ball pit, chalk drawing, and a special character appearance! Please register so that we can contact you in the event of a weather-related cancellation (rain date is June 24).

Pete The Cat Music

Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 10:00 – 10:45am

On his way to the Music Room, Pete’s white shoes get dirty but he just keeps going along and singing his songs. Pete learns a cool song, a groovy dance and discovers his own boogie shoes!

Best for Ages 1-6. Registration is required.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents will be allowed to register starting on June 7.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on June 14.

Intro to Improv

Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Join us for a program where everything is made up! Play acting games to learn the basics of improvisational comedy. For teens in grades 7-12 registration is required.

Hooked on Llamas

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Debbie from Country Quilt Llama Farm will bring one of her llama friends to the library for a special storytime! Children will be able to touch and pet a real llama.

Best for ages 3-8. Registration is required.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents will be allowed to register starting on June 8.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on June 15.

Hot Cat Jazz Band in concert at Mixville Park

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for our summer concert series kick-off!  The Hot Cat Jazz Band summer concert in June will be fun for the entire family.  The Hot Cats repertoire includes swing standards, big band hits, Dixieland favorites and classic rock. Admission to Mixville Park is free for concert attendees.  Just tell the staff at the entrance gate that you are there for the concert.  The concert will begin at 6:30, but you are welcome to come early and enjoy a picnic or a stroll at beautiful Mixville!  Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and some bug spray.   Raindate: June 23.

Bear Scavenger Hunt

Thursday, June 23, 2022, All Day Event

Drop into the Children’s Room and complete a bear scavenger hunt for a chance to win a prize from the Beardsley Zoo! No registration required. Sponsored by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library and the Beardsley Zoo.

Teen Crafts: CD Suncatchers

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Come hang out in the Teen Room, and make some aesthetically pleasing and trendy suncatchers out of recycled CDs. Snacks will be provided. For teens/tweens in grades 6-12. Registration required.

Best of England’s Dramatic Cornwall

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Armchair travelers, this one’s for you! Join Anglophile and former UK resident Claire Evans for a lively discussion about this underappreciated English destination, Cornwall, England’s far west country bordered by the North Atlantic and the English Channel. This program will be ONLINE, please register to receive a Zoom link one hour before the program.

Zombie School: SFX Makeup Workshop for grades 5-12

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 4:00 – 5:30pm

Decimated Designs will teach you how to transform into a monster, zombie, and more! We’ll cover the do’s and don’ts of special effects makeup, hygiene, how to get started, and some tricks you can use to improve your costumes or makeup at home. Seats are limited, registration is required.

The Bad Guys Book Party 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Help the Bad Guys, characters from the book series by Aaron Blabey, complete a mission and save the library! Enjoy crafts, games, challenges and more! Best for kids in grades K-6. Siblings are welcome to attend. Registration is required.

Songs Around the Campfire

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 11:00 – 11:45am

Sing some funny and upbeat campfire songs with Julie Stepanek and her ukulele!

Best for ages 0-7. Registration is required.

  • Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents will be allowed to register starting on June 16.
  • Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on June 23.

Italy Through the Seasons

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 6:30 – 7:40pm

Join us as we will introduce you to a rich and meaningful seasonal experience of Italy. We will take a full discovery across Italy, north to south including Sicily. We hope to see you for this relaxed, informational and interactive presentation. Lisa (Cisero) Phillips of  Bella Europa Travel will be presenting. Registration is required.

JUNE BOOK CLUBS

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: Strong Poison

Thursday, June 16, 2022, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Natural Selections Book Club: Sapiens

Saturday, June 18, 2022, 2:30 – 3:30pm

Many Stories Book Club: There There

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Books Over Coffee: Lessons in Chemistry

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 12:00 – 1:30pm

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

May we interest you in a program or two this month? Tons of programs are on the May calendar for kids, teens, and adults, here’s a sampling:

The Art of the Scandal: Thefts, Vandals and Forgeries

Monday, May 2, 2022, 7:00 – 8:15pm

This ONLINE program explores some of the most brazen criminal acts in the art world and features works by artists including da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Learn more about works that were targeted and how they were recovered and restored for our enjoyment today. Presented by Jane Oneail of Culturally Curious. Registration is required.

Bitcoin and Other Market Trends

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Have you been scratching your head about Bitcoin? What is it? How does it work? Join us for an interesting evening and we will explore cryptocurrency and other trends in the marketplace. Bring your questions! Presented by Tim Baker, CFA, Founder & CEO of Metric Financial, LLC. Registration is required.

Food Explorers – cooking for kids

Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00pm

Kids will create their own delicious after school snack each week, while learning all about food and nutrition with a Registered Dietitian. Recipes may contain gluten, dairy, and/or eggs. For children in grades 2-6. Please register for each event in the series.

Open Art Studio

Fridays from 1-3pm, May 6, 13, 20, 27

Bring your works in progress and supplies to this weekly drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup (please do not bring turpentine). Registration is required for each session.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Registration is required.

West Main Music Academy’s Spring Showcase

Saturday, May 14, 2022, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Join us to enjoy performances from the West Main Music Academy’s talented and hard-working students, on such instruments as guitar, piano, violin, viola, ukulele, drums, vocal performances, and more. These music students and their teachers have put a tremendous amount of dedication, practice, and passion into honing their skills. Please join us to enjoy their performances and celebrate their accomplishments!

Creating a Compelling College Application

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

This virtual program will cover the college application process including current admissions trends, writing the personal statement essay and supplemental essays, teacher recommendations and how students can position themselves to increase their chances for admission. Registration is required for this online program, participants will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Loft Knitters

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our monthly knitting group. Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters.  All levels of adult knitters’ welcome, please bring your own yarn and knitting needles. Registration is required.

Teen Advisory Board (Grades 6-12)

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Teens – share your ideas and thoughts about upcoming programs, materials, and general improvements to help make the Cheshire Library an even better place for you and your friends. You will earn 1 hour of community service credit for attending. If you want to make a difference in the library and your community, then TAB is for you! Registration is required for this in-person program – click here to see the latest mask policies in town buildings.

Housing Choice for the Whole Life Cycle: Opportunities and Benefits

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Come listen to experts Dwight Merriam (Fellow and Past President of the American Instituted of Certified Planners) and Sean Ghio (Policy Director of Partnership for Strong Communities) and join in this discussion of housing and one potential solution to our housing shortage and cost crisis – accessory dwelling units (ADUs.) Registration is required.

Saturday Storytime

Saturday, May 21, 2022, 9:30 – 10:00am

An interactive storytime for children to learn through talking, singing, reading, writing,and playing!

Registration is required: Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents will be allowed to register starting on May 7. Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on May 14.

Medicinal Herb Gardening

Monday, May 23, 2022, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Imagine growing your own medicinal herbs for your own herbal remedies! “. . . but where do I begin? How do I even start growing a medicinal herb garden?” This ONLINE program is presented by the mother/daughter team “The Grounded Goodwife, who will teach you 11 of their favorites that are all easy to grow, do well in virtually every climate, and have a variety of medicinal benefits. Registration is required.

FEA Storytime

Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 3:45 – 4:45pm

Join the Future Educators of America from Dodd Middle School for a special read aloud and crafts in commemoration of Memorial Day. The Future Educators of America is an organization that offers opportunities for young teens in exploring careers in education. For children in grades K-2. Please register to make sure we have enough supplies for everyone.

MAY BOOK CLUBS:

Many Stories Book Club: The Leavers

Monday, May 16, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: The Stranger Diaries

Thursday, May 19, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Art League Book Club: Exploring Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel

Friday, May 20, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Natural Selections Book Club: Finding the Mother Tree

Saturday, May 21, 2:30 – 3:30pm

Books Over Coffee: America for Beginners

Wednesday, May 25, 12:00 – 1:30pm

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in April

We’re diving back into in-person programs, with tons of offerings this month for kids, teens, and adults. We even have 2 concerts on the calendar this month! Of course, the library will be following the latest masking and social distancing policies set by the Town of Cheshire for all in-person programs. Reserve your seats!

Open Art Studio

Fridays from 1-3pm, April 1, 8, 22, and 29

Bring your works in progress and supplies to this weekly drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup (please do not bring turpentine). Registration is required for each session.

Food Explorers – cooking for kids

Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00pm

Kids will create their own delicious after school snack each week, while learning all about food and nutrition with a Registered Dietitian. Recipes may contain gluten, dairy, and/or eggs. For children in grades 2-6. Please register for each event in the series.

Cheshire Art League: Jim Laurino

Wednesday, April 6, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

The Cheshire Art League is hosting Jim Laurino as this month’s guest artist. Through workshops and self-study, Jim has cultivated a bold representational painting style that balances the impressionists’ influence with contemporary subject matter. Registration is required.

New World Trio concert

Saturday, April 9, 2022, 2:00 – 3:30pm

“East Meets West” is the theme of this afternoon’s performance, which will feature three beautiful trios by Mozart, Chen Yi, and Brahms. New World Trio, founded in 1985 by violinist Anhared Stowe, presents wide-ranging concerts of both classical and contemporary chamber music works, performed with consummate artistry. 

Toadstool Lanterns

Monday, April 11, 2022, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Create your own toadstool lantern to brighten up your room. We’ll use recycled materials, paint and some tea lights to create this one of a kind lantern. For kids in grades K-3. Space is limited, registration is required.

Save the Mill River

Monday, April 11, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Author, documentarian and environmental activist Stephen Hamm will host an in-person showing of his film about the Mill River, A River Speaks. The Mill River, which originates in Cheshire, was once a flourishing, healthy water body. Today the Mill River is impaired and generally unsuitable for use by fishermen and other recreational activities for much of its 12.6-mile length. Registration is required.

Cheshire Anime Club

Tuesday, April 12, 2022, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Can’t get enough Anime and Manga? Be an “Otaku” and join the Cheshire Anime Club! We’ll meet monthly, read and talk about what’s hot in the world of Manga, and watch some of the latest Anime releases on the big screen! We’ll have a door prize- and possibly Japanese snacks to take home! For teens in grades 7-12. Registration is required.

Loft Knitters

Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our monthly knitting group. Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters.  All levels of adult knitters’ welcome, please bring your own yarn and knitting needles. Registration is required.

Mini Golf

Thursday, April 14, 2022, 1:15pm – 3:30pm

Play mini golf in the library! Sign up for a time slot to begin playing. All ages are welcome to play, but please note the size of the putters is limited. Spaces are limited, so please register starting April 1. Please register each player individually.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, April 14, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Registration is required.

Trivia Night

Thursday, April 14, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends. Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course literature! It’s all For Pride, Not Prize. Registration is required.

Joyce Saltman: What is Your Yes

Thursday, April 21, 2022, 3:30 – 4:30pm

This interactive workshop will help you pinpoint the things that add joy and humor to your life. Discover your joyful and authentic self and identify the gifts that allow you to reach for your highest potential. Please have on hand a pen or pencil and piece of paper for the presentation. Registration is required.

Teen Advisory Board (Grades 6-12)

Friday, April 22, 2022, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Teens – share your ideas and thoughts about upcoming programs, materials, and general improvements to help make the Cheshire Library an even better place for you and your friends. You will earn 1 hour of community service credit for attending. If you want to make a difference in the library and your community, then TAB is for you! Registration is required for this in-person program – click here to see the latest mask policies in town buildings.

The Power of Journaling

Monday, April 25, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Is journaling on your list of things to do in 2022?  Have you been thinking about journaling but don’t know where to start? Join journaling educator Amanda Stern to explore the benefits of journaling, different ways to journal, and tips for creating a journaling experience that is just right for you! Bring your curiosity, creativity, and an open mind! Registration is required.

Author Talk: Libby Copeland, The Lost Family

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

In this ONLINE program, author Libby Copeland will draw on her many years of research for her new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are (Abrams, 2020), which The Wall Street Journal calls “a fascinating account of lives dramatically affected by genetic sleuthing.” Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link an hour before the program.

Introduction to the 1950 Census

Friday, April 29, 2022, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Calling all genealogy and history fans! The 1950 census will be coming out for the first time this April 2022.   Join us, as we learn what treasure trove of information you can find in the census and especially the new 1950 census. Registration is required.

Paul Bisaccia Piano Concert “Rousing American Ragtime”

Saturday, April 30, 2022, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Long-time Cheshire favorite Paul Bisaccia returns to present the inaugural concert on the library’s beautiful new piano. Paul will present a concert of exciting American ragtime featuring works by Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime (The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag), as well as ragtime by George Gershwin.

April Book Clubs

Many Stories Book Club: The White Tiger

Monday, April 18, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm (in-person, registration required)

Book Buzz Teen Book Club (Grades 6-12): Firekeeper’s Daughter

Tuesday, April 19 2022, 3:30 – 4:30pm (in-person, registration required)

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Thursday, April 21, 2022, 1:00 – 2:30pm (online, registration required)

Art League Book Club: The Girl With A Pearl Earring

Friday, April 22, 2022, 11:00am – 12:30pm (online, registration required)

Natural Selections Book Club: Silent Spring 

Monday, April 22, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm (in-person, registration required)

Books Over Coffee Book Club: The Wedding

Wednesday, April 27 2022, 12:00 – 1:30pm (in-person, registration required)

Looking Back…Moving Forward

by Beth Crowley, Library Director

If you have lived through a number of decades as I have you can respond to the perennial question “Where were you when (insert significant event) happened?” For me it has been the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, 9/11, and the Sandy Hook school shooting. We note these tragedies over other moments not just because they were horrible but because their impact left clear boundary marks dividing time into “before” and “after” the event. Often the “after” time has resulted in a reduction of our sense of peace, security and belief that life is good and things will go as planned. Two years ago this month, on March 13, 2020, I experienced another of these defining moments when we shut the Library doors to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We found out on March 13 that we would be closing that same day.

Covid-19 didn’t strike in a single, sudden devastating event like the others I have mentioned but it clearly left a divider between pre- and post-pandemic life. Earlier in the week of March 13, 2020, I along with my fellow Town department heads attended a meeting with the Chesprocott Health Director, Maura Esposito and her staff. There we asked questions about precautions we should take to mitigate the spread of the virus among our employees and residents. I asked if the Library should put away the toys and craft materials in the Children’s Room. I was told there was no need and that the goal was to keep things as normal as possible for our patrons. By the end of the week, the Cheshire Public Schools sent all students home early and I got the call from the Town Manager to close the Library. Despite the sudden change in tone and urgency, we looked at the closing as a temporary measure perhaps lasting two weeks at most. None of us could have predicted the path we were about to take or where it would lead. Face masks, plexiglass barriers, social distancing, hand sanitizing stations, virtual programs, and mass vaccine clinics were still only shadows of things yet to be.

Leading an organization during the pandemic has been the biggest challenge of my 24 year career. Before Covid-19, I would try to calm stressed nerves by reminding staff that while library services are important to our customers nothing we did was in the “life or death” category. Now I was faced with making policy and procedural decisions that if wrong could result in serious illness or worse. For library employees, whose entire profession is based on access to accurate and trust-worthy information, the constantly changing messages and lack of clear guidance from national health and government leaders was frustrating. As library directors often do when struggling to solve a problem, I turned to my colleagues to compare notes. However, it soon became clear that based on varying rates of infection in different towns, conflicting guidance from health districts and that library buildings come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes it made sense to focus on what would work best for the Cheshire Public Library. I reached out again to Maura Esposito. She patiently walked me through every step I needed to consider and gave excellent and sound advice. Her guidance cut through the national noise allowing me to narrow my focus and plan for the immediate safety concerns with an eye to the future.

Providing library services during the pandemic was challenging but there were silver linings. Despite the disruption to my employee’s daily lives and work place, I soon discovered how resilient and innovative they could be. Faced with a closed library and working remotely, I was amazed at how my librarians quickly planned and delivered programs virtually. Until Covid-19, I thought Zoom was a TV program I watched as a kid! Our library clerks assisted with calling hundreds of Cheshire senior citizens to check on them and refer them for help if needed. To provide reading and entertainment materials for residents during the lockdown, we reallocated funds meant for buying physical items and added more digital content that users could freely access through our website. A number of patrons have told me this was the first time they tried our eBook collection and they were surprised by how much they enjoyed it. Since 2019, use of these resources has increased by 42%.

When we returned to a still closed building, staff coordinated and launched our first ever curbside “Grab and Go” service. At the program’s height we were filling an average of 60 bags with library materials every day! In order to help library users discover new materials while we were closed and browsing was impossible, we launched our Matchbook reader’s advisory program. We created an online form where patrons could tell us their reading interests and librarians would “match” them with books they may enjoy. The feedback from this program was so positive we have continued it and plan to keep it in place post-pandemic.

Now, almost two years to the day we shut down, we are finally able to relax most of our safety protocols and hopefully begin a permanent return to pre-pandemic times. But as with other life changing events, we can never truly go back to how life was before Covid-19 struck. For one the immense loss of life, at one point the equivalent of a 9/11 tragedy every day, has forever changed the lives of thousands of families. For students who graduated and began college during the pandemic, their experience of these milestone events was far from typical. How long will it be before we truly feel comfortable standing close to a stranger or giving a friend a hug?

Despite the difficulties and tragedies of the past two years, we must go forward. This month at the Library masks are now optional, we are resuming in-person programing including children’s storytimes, we’ve added back more public computers, increased capacities of our study rooms and reopened our Teen Space featuring new furniture purchased with American Rescue Plan grant funds.

No matter what life-changing events occur, the one thing I know about the role of the public library in a community is we can help our residents recover from hard times. Providing a peaceful place to read, work or relax can be a salve in scary times. Books, music and movies can be a welcome escape from the more difficult news we are bombarded with. Connecting with others to learn or discover through a program is an uplifting and renewing experience that can help buoy us after a hard day. It has been my honor to work with the amazing staff at the Cheshire Public Library during this challenging time as we tried to support and meet the needs of our residents. Since reopening our doors to the public in September of 2020 we are almost back to our pre-pandemic borrowing numbers and our library visits are continuing to increase. We hope with the return of more of our regular services and the addition of some exciting new ones (stayed tuned!) that we will be welcoming even more library users of all ages and we particularly look forward to seeing everyone’s smiles!