Collegedale Public Library adapts to the Coronavirus Pandemic

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COLLEGEDALE, Tenn (WDEF) – The Collegedale Public Library has had a challenging year – repairing extensive tornado damage and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic; so they’ve had to find ways to adapt.

The challenges began when the  Easter Sunday tornadoes hit. The library lost a large section of their roof, allowing water to pour in damaging hundreds of books.

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“We took extensive water damage in that front corner. It soaked through a lot of our young adult books. It wasn’t just water. The ceiling tiles all got wet and disintegrated and there was this white goo stuck to everything. Once a book gets mold in it there is no stopping it,” says Natalie Wright, Director of the Library.

Since the repairs, the library has received a $5,000 grant from the Weldon F. Osborne Foundation to help replace the damaged books, but they are still dealing with limitations from the pandemic.

Director of the library says teens can be the hardest demographic to keep interested in the library and reading,  so they have worked to find  unique ways to draw them back in.

“We’re trying to get teens engaged with reading obviously but we’re also trying to provide teens with a little bit of relief. We are doing online craft programs and started origami. We are just trying to get them interested and engaged with the library and give them something to do in the middle of a pandemic,” says Zoe Grimes, Library Associate.

Since library shelves are close together, patrons aren’t allowed to browse right now and officials say that has caused checkout rates to drop dramatically.

“People have been asking us over and over ‘when can I come browse?’ They don’t feel like they can choose their book unless they are here to look at them. I feel really bad. I want people to take advantage of our other services and still check out books but we have seen a drop in checkouts,” says Wright.

The library is still operating on limited services due to the pandemic but residents can still check out books, movies, or craft kits through the website, curbside or even over the phone .