We've only been able to re-introduce some toys (the easiest-to-clean ones) into our Children's Room play space recently, and the little ones are so happy to have them back! I've never doubted the importance of free play in children's lives, but seeing how excited our youngest patrons are to be able to play with other children again, even with a limited number of toys, has been really special. They library toys were sorely missed.
We've also been fortunate to have been able to record virtual programs and offer corresponding Take Home Kits for families to use together. We've found that we are actually able to reach a larger number of patrons with these kits than we ever could have with one-time programs. Also, we're able to provide activities which require drying or baking, which we never could have done with in-person programs since there wouldn't have been enough time, and each kit contains several projects so families can use them over the course of a week or a month or whatever fits their schedules.
We hope to continue offering these kits to our patrons for as long as possible, and we've found that this and other changes, such as providing a curbside pickup option for people, are ones that we want to keep from now on. It's been an unexpected but welcome surprise to discover how beneficial changes that we hadn't planned to make can be. It's a great lesson to learn as we continue to move forward both as a library and as a warm community space.