In-person library programs return to Vicksburg

Youth Librarian Stephanie Willoughby leads young patrons during her in-person Family Story Time program in late September.

Vicksburg District Library has begun adding in-person programs to its schedules. The Library has been slow to start as it watched the progress of the COVID-19 while more Kalamazoo county residents continued to get vaccinated. While keeping attendees’ health and safety in mind, especially for children who aren’t approved for vaccination, Vicksburg has gradually started advertising for traditional programming.

The first program held in-person was the Writers’ Roundtable, headed by Library Director Eric Hansen at the end of August. It was well-attended and given its success, it was left up on the Library’s Calendar of Events to begin its regular rotation every fourth Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.

“I was exceedingly glad to host the Creative Writing group again,” said Hansen. “Hosting events and meeting the community is a core part of being a librarian, and it makes our work fun and exciting.”

Stephanie Willoughby, youth services librarian, began holding in-person family story time sessions in mid-September. She worked to keep families spaced out for social distancing and highly recommended masking although it was not mandatory. In addition, she started holding another session of the popular program on Wednesdays, in addition to the traditional Mondays. Her hope is that this will offer another option for families to attend, as well as keep attendance spread out for the safety of all attendees.

“Story time lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and there is a take-home craft or activity every week,” Willoughby said. “Each family has their own designated spot with the book that is being read. Caregivers and kids can then cuddle together while I read the stories. Plus, there are shakers and scarves that are cleaned thoroughly after each program.”

Willoughby experimented with in-person programming during the summer reading program in June and July. Story times were held outside at the Pavilion in the Historical Village, allowing for open air and easy social distancing for families. The programs proved successful.

The head of reference and circulation services, Adrianne Schinkai, held her first session of the Book Club for Adults on Sept. 2. Schinkai decided to move along with the scheduling of programs, but has taken a page from Willoughby’s book by holding the sessions at different times each week. Book Club for Adults is currently being held the first Thursday of each month at 9 a.m., while a spin-off program, the Everything Book Club, is being held the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

In addition, Schinkai is heading Yarn Arts Circle, a crafting program that was gaining popularity before cancellation due to COVID-19. A morning session is being held the second Thursday of the month at 9:00 a.m. while the traditional evening session will be held the fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. This allows patrons to attend without overcrowding. Schinkai hopes the new schedules will open attendance opportunities for new patrons.

“One of the biggest things our patrons are looking for right now is programming. However, we want to do this as safely as possible,” said Schinkai. “Not only is there the health and safety of our patrons, of course, but the health and safety of our library’s staff as well. We haven’t escaped unscratched by COVID. We hope patrons will keep this in mind when they return to the Library.”

The regular lineup of in-person programming starts in October. The Library advises that events will be socially distanced as much as possible and any mask mandates that are in place by the Michigan Health and Human Services are expected to be followed by all attendees. To find out more about these events, visit the Vicksburg District Library’s Calendar of Events page at

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