Summer reading season has arrived for local libraries, and just in time, they have fully open their doors to the public once again.

“I feel confident and excited,” said David Bauman, director of the West Pittston Library. “It’s definitely good to see people again.”

The West Pittston Library had closed over the holidays, then reopened with limited hours. Now, it has expanded to nearly normal hours as of May 3, Bauman said, and is planning to participate in the Luzerne County Library System Summer Reading Program, “Tails and Tales.”

The library will run a hybrid program, allowing a small number of children to come to the library in person, while any others who sign up will participate virtually. Bauman said the library’s staff is ready to welcome summer readers.

“I admire my staff being able to look at the computer screen and look at the kids at the library,” he said.

Registration for the program starts June 1 on Facebook or the library’s website. The program will feature weekly events for age groups of 2-6, 7-11 and 12 and older. Those participating virtually will be able to pick up craft and activity kits from the library.

The Pittston Memorial Library also has reopened with limited hours for “browsing and borrowing,” and will participate in the “Tails and Tales” summer reading program. Summer reading events are available on the library’s Facebook page.

“It’s great,” library director Patricia Joyce said. “We’re seeing all of our people again.”

Kristin Boettger, coordinator of children’s services at the Pittston Memorial Library, has plans to keep up with summer reading through virtual programming.

“The theme is really fun this year,” she said. “We’re looking forward to incorporating different activities.”

Boettger will lean into the “Tails and Tales” theme by spending a week of the summer focusing on birds, the second on dinosaurs, the third on forest animals and the fourth on zoo animals. Because the events at the Pittston Library will all be virtual, parents can register their children on Facebook and pick up craft and activity packets at the library for each week.

The past year has been challenging for libraries, especially when they had to close down completely, but Bauman said the West Pittston Library tackled the challenges with robust virtual programs and other initiatives for those without access to computers.

“I’m very proud of my staff,” Bauman said. “With the programming, they’ve done a fantastic job keeping the community connected.”

Bauman said the library kept up with “really active” programs for children and adults, initiated “porch pickup” of book orders, and even spent time reaching out to regular patrons who would normally come to the library for computer access.

“We’ve had a lot to learn,” he said. “In many ways we’ve seen more activity.”

As the library is able to transition to more in-person programming, Bauman said the it may continue to livestream and post programs on YouTube for people who may not want to come out in person but still want to participate in their local library.

Boettger said her club programs, STEAM club and craft club, grew in popularity while being held virtually.

“I think it worked out better with people’s schedules,” she said.

Boettger stated the Pittston Memorial Library will continue with virtual programming for the time being, but Joyce expressed pride in the staff’s ability to “pivot.”

“It was very challenging,” Joyce said. “We’re still keeping people engaged, letting them know the resources we have … we’re holding our own.”

Wyoming Free Library also has reopened for browsing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, except on Thursdays and Sundays. The Wyoming Free Library also will participate in the “Tails and Tales” program, but has not yet announced if activities will be in person or if they will remain virtual. The library could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Regardless of its summer plans, children can take part in virtual programs happening now at the Wyoming Free Library, through virtual story times, including May the Force be With You Fridays at 10 a.m., Scooby Doo Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Monday morning stories beginning at 10 a.m., followed by an online event. Virtual and other events at the library are posted daily on the its Facebook page.

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