1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Evelyn Guzman, Woodworth Library recreation specialist, and Nichole Houtman, library tech, display various craft projects that have been created through the library’s virtual events for patrons. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Patrons who complete this season’s Virtual Story Time challenge at the end of March will be entered to win one of three Human Body Science Kits. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A service member enrolled in the Signal Captains Career Course utilizes test proctoring at Woodworth Library on Jan. 22. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Woodworth Library is currently operating with limited hours and is only open to service members needing computer access. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs ) VIEW ORIGINAL

If the staff at Woodworth Library had their way, concerns surrounding COVID-19 would be in the past, and patrons would be continuously filing in and out of the library doors like they used to. But without a concrete end to the pandemic in sight, they’ve had no choice but to either curb services or go virtual. Fortunately for the community, they chose the latter.

“The entire library team has been really open and creative,” said Yadira Payne, Woodworth Library director. “We’ve worked really hard to provide our services – just in modified, new creative ways. And we’re constantly re-evaluating how we offer and what we offer to try to make it a little bit easier.”

One of the ways library staff continues to provide service is through its weekly Virtual Story Time. The increasingly popular event occurs on the Fort Gordon MWR Woodworth Library Facebook page.

New lessons, crafts and games are posted every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Along with the video, there is a link to watch/listen to the day’s featured story.

The current season’s theme, “My body,” began in September and will end March 31. Video posts are about 5 minutes long and begin with greeting from Evelyn Guzman, Woodworth Library recreation specialist, and Nichole Houtman, library tech. In the video, the duo teach viewers how to say different body parts in Spanish and follow with a craft. Parents then have the option to pick up a craft kit from the library to make the featured craft at home.

“We are trying to avoid them bringing in kids through the front, so they ring the doorbell in the back, they let us know what craft kit they are looking for, and we will give them however many craft kits they need,” Guzman explained. “They take it home, work on those crafts, and then they post a picture on our Facebook page.”

Children who participate and post a picture in the comment section for the corresponding week will be entered to win a prize for that week. At the end of the season, participants will have an opportunity to win one of three larger prizes by identifying and speaking each body part learned in Spanish.

Although Guzman would rather host story time in person, one positive thing that has come from conducting it virtually has been the ability to reach more families.

“When we were doing the story time here in the facility, we might have 40 kids,” she said. “Now the views and the likes on Facebook, we have reached 300, 400 … by providing it online, everybody has access to it.”

The Knitting Circle, Reading Circle, and STEAM lab have also gone to virtual meetings. Reading Circle and STEAM lab videos are pre-recorded and uploaded to the library’s Facebook page whereas the Knitting Circle meets via Zoom Video Communications on Saturdays at 11 a.m.

In addition to regularly scheduled activities, library staff is working on ways to host other events such as Dr. Seuss Week, National Read Across America Day, Children’s Book Week, and more.

“We’re still going to have the events, just virtual, Payne said. “It is hard, but the library is trying to be there and continue to provide the same programming that we were providing but in a different way.”

It has become a “new normal” that Payne is confident is temporary but understands is necessary.

“We continue to provide a service and be as accommodating as we can while maintaining the health and safety standards,” Payne said. “Turning people away is definitely not in our mission … but we have to until we have some sort of handle on things.”

Woodworth Library is strictly open to active-duty and service members in training who need computer access. For more information, call the library at 706-791-7323.