Frederick County Public Libraries are starting to bring back outdoor in-person library events and story times after two years of virtual programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our customers are really excited,” says Bryan Thomas Hissong, FCPL’s community engagement manager. “They have been waiting for story times and programs to come back. We have been patiently waiting to be able to present them. Thankfully, we are finally able to, but our customers are really excited to have those programs back.
The decision to move back to in-person programming was made because COVID transmission rates have improved over the past weeks and months. “We and other county agencies just feel like we are finally getting to the point where we can do these (programs) again where we can have crowds again and people can be safe,” he says.
When the pandemic began in March 2020, the library system quickly pivoted to a virtual format with the ability to put most of its content online, including story times and other engaging programming for audiences ranging from birth to older adults.
“Folks really seemed to enjoy it,” Hissong says. As time went on, viewership decreased as people were able to go outside and do other activities. Now, FCPL is ready to go back to in-person programming. If COVID transmission rates continue to improve, the library system hopes to be able to offer in-person, indoor activities in the coming months.
For those near to Carroll County Public Library branches like Mount Airy and Taneytown, in-person, indoor story times returned there in early March. Washington County Free Library, including branches like Smithsburg, continues to offer in-person, indoor story times.
Some of the outdoor programming for kids coming up at FCPL include Eddie the Pig visits Urbana Regional Library for “Book Boogie Story Times” on April 8, 15 and 22 at 10:30 a.m. and “Bee Kind Story Time” on the Library Trail for ages birth to 6 at the Thurmont Regional Library Deck, April 9 from 10:30-11 a.m. An event for all ages is ‘My Garden of A Thousand Bees Speaker and Pollinator Planting’ at the Thurmont Regional Library Deck on April 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The program features a talk by Maryland Master Naturalist John Allender and discusses the importance of native bees and other pollinators. Presenters will invite the community to help with on-site planting of pollinators.
“We know folks have been missing the library and honestly all of our staff here,” Hissong says. “We’ve been missing the community as well,and we are just so excited to see everyone again and to welcome them back to our building and to our programs.”