Read away those winter, pandemic blues with the Upshur County Library’s book club, find out about eBooks and more

TENNERTON – Was one of your New Year’s Resolutions this year to read more books? Is the cold weather or the climbing cases of COVID-19 in the area keeping you closer to home these days and hindering your reading?

Paul Norko, director of the Upshur County Public Library, and his staff have devised lots of ways folks can enjoy the benefits of the library without leaving home – and are still offering a host of services to those who venture out to the library, located at 1150 Route 20 South Road in Tennerton.

If you have trouble picking out which book to read Norko offered a suggestion. Follow along with the UCPL Book Club and let them not only pick one book to read each month and then gather to discuss that book with others in the community. He said the UCPL offers a wonderful book club, which began meeting in September 2017, and now, the club is meeting both in person and virtually.

“We meet at the library on the first Thursdays of the month, which begins at 5 p.m., and also on Zoom,” Norko said. “We had a patron who donated a Zoom account to us in August and we have been using it for both the book club and the weekly children’s story time as COVID cases are on the rise, and people are not feeling as safe going out. We figured this would be a safe way of offering some of our services without endangering people.”

He said there is no official sign-up, but the WV State Library Commission sends the Upshur County Public Library 12 copies of the book the club is reading each month.

“We have those at the circulation desk and if people are interested in reading this month’s book there is information on our website or they can stop in to the UCPL and ask for a copy of the book,” he said. “This month’s book is Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.”

Norko said the book club actually meets in person at the library and those joining in on Zoom are a part of the same group and can hear and participate in the discussion as if they are in the room as well.

“It is held like a live event,” Norko said. “If people want the Zoom link, it is posted on our webpage. There is no charge for this group. I also try to make sure there is an eBook copy of the book they are reading as well.”

Speaking of eBooks, Norko said there are plenty of eBooks available for people to read if they do not wish to come into the library to check out a book.

“E-Books have really been growing in popularity since COVID-19 set in,” Norko said. “There are eBooks and e-Audiobooks available through the Overdrive and Libby Apps. We also offer curbside services for people who are not comfortable coming into the library. If someone calls us, emails us or sends us a message on Facebook messenger with a list of books or authors they want to read, we will go and pull those – as long as they have a library card – and check them out and bring them out to their vehicle in the traffic circle. They do not even need to step into the library.”

He said patrons who have a library card can use that to get them into the eBooks and eAudiobooks.

“They can be downloaded on their phones, tablets or computers,” he said. “If they need help, they can call our library and we can help them get started.”

Having trouble getting your children and grandchildren reading more books? Norko said Bobbi Long, who is the circulation supervisor of children’s programming at the UCPL, has been leading the children’s storytime for about 20 years and has made some changes to the group which will make it more accessible.

“She had a weekly story time that stopped last March because of COVID,” Norko said. “Once we received the Zoom account, we have been experimenting with having story time on Zoom. What she does is takes e-books and shares the screen and has the children follow along with that. There is a craft such as building something with Legos following that.”

Norko said the virtual children’s story time has been taking place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

“There is also a children’s story time group on our Facebook page,” he said. “We advertise the times and dates on there so follow along. This is more toward children that are preschool-aged and folks can join the group on Facebook for additional information.”

Patrons coming into the library can also pick up storytime-to-go kits.

“That is basically a bag with a book and a craft activity,” he said. “The kids really enjoy this and they are lots of fun.”

Anyone who needs to connect to the internet can come to the library and those not wishing to come into the library may use the KidsConnect.

“There are five sites in the county that are not schools where folks can connect to the internet via KidsConnect,” he said. “They are the three libraries – UCPL, the Charles W. Gibson Public Library and the James W. Curry Library – and the Stockert Youth Center and Audra State Park.”

Those wishing to help support the UCPL can go on their webpage where there is a link for donations.

“We also participate in the Kroger Community Rewards,” Norko said. The way this works is, people who have the Kroger App can choose to have a portion of their purchases donated to the Upshur County Public Library by signing up on the app.

“We also participate in the Amazon Smile rewards which works the same way. Folks go on and sign up so a portion of the purchases come back to the Upshur County Public Library Friends of the Library,” he said.

Norko said the UCPL is still open during its normal hours of Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Those entering the UCPL must wear a face covering per the Governor’s order,” he said. “We are trying to provide all of our services as we can.”

The UCPL has a Facebook page and their website is at www.upshurcounty.lib.wv.us. They can be reached by calling 304-473-4219 or faxing 304-473-4222.

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