At the library

Library Director Shanda Cramer said a program that brought in a Lincoln re-enactor went over well.

The coronavirus limited how much programming the library could do this year, but last year was a great year for the library, Library Director Shanda Cramer said at Tuesday’s Lion meeting.

The Clay Center Library is pretty much back to regular operations after the coronavirus prompted them to limit what they could do. Right now they’re in the middle of the summer reading program, which was shortened and some activities moved outside because of the coronavirus.

Cramer, originally from Ohio, has lived in Clay Center for eight years and has a “lifelong love of libraries and a passion to serve.”

“There are times I can’t believe I get paid to be at the library, and there other times, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what did I get myself into?” she said of the job and what she’s trying to accomplish.

The library has undergone significant changes in the last year that have including changes to the building, better lighting, painting, landscaping and other changes to make the library a better place to be. While these cosmetic changes are important, Cramer said a shift toward more programming to bring people in the door is perhaps more important.

“My goal is to make the library a part of the community and not just a place to be in,” Cramer said. “One of the biggest ways we do that is through programming.”

And while programs have been cut back significantly in 2020 because of the coronavirus, 2019 was a great year for programs, with 758 of them held at the library in which a total of 5,676 people attended -- everything from things people are already aware of such as the summer reading program and story time for pre-schoolers to new events brought in. The library brought in KSWorks to set up job fairs at the library, set up an afterschool program that provided teens with challenges and activities, and set up events for clients of Big Lakes Developmental Center, Clay County Head Start and others.

The afterschool program was Cramer’s idea and it went over very well, she said. Cramer said she noticed there wasn’t much for teenagers to do after school that wasn’t athletic -- particularly at the middle school level, she came up with MakerSpace activities, challenges and other activities including strategy and electronics equipment. For an activity, they made something they designed with a 3D printer. For another activity, they had to find a way to keep “fake poop from hitting the floor.” The kids who participated loved it and the club grew because of it.

Cramer said her plans for the library’s future is to continue that trend, add more “family inclusive” programming and try new things. One of the things she’s currently working on is to set up a story walk at a local trail. This idea essentially puts a book or other reading material at the start of the trail that can be read as people walk through the trail.