While none of the Ypsilanti District Library's (YDL) buildings are open to the public, staff are trying to find creative ways to help patrons get through the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing themed, monthly self-care kits.
Since staff aren't spending much money on in-person events, some of YDL's existing program budget has been diverted to creating kits and similar projects.
"Obviously everybody is pretty stressed and has a lot on their mind, so we're trying to do more things to alleviate the stress of not having [access to] the library," says Sam Killian, YDL's community relations coordinator. "People rely a lot on going into our buildings and using our services, so we're doing as much as we can to still provide services and materials for people. The self-care kits fit with our mission of meeting people where they are and addressing the needs they have now. And the need they have now is to destress and unwind."
October was the first month of the self-care kit project, spearheaded by librarian Kim Rowe. The first set of kits had an apple theme and included cinnamon sticks, spiced apple tea, crossword pages, chocolates, recipes, a breathing exercise, and instructions for a yoga pose. Twenty kits were distributed in less than a week, Killian says.
Each month's kit will include themed items to promote rest and relaxation, like coloring pages, gratitude journaling prompts, instructions for a breathing exercise or yoga pose, recipes for self-care items like face masks or bath products, tea, and sweet treats. Giving thanks will be the theme of November packages, and December's theme will be holiday cheer. Staff are planning to increase the number of kits to at least 25 per month since demand was so strong in October.
Kits are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons can pull into one of two curbside pickup spaces in the parking lot at YDL's downtown branch at 229 W. Michigan Ave., call the number posted, and request a self-care kit. Kits are available starting the first Thursday of each month.
Another new YDL offering is pop-up curbside browsing, with designated days set aside for patrons to browse a selection of popular new books, children's picture books, and holiday-themed volumes outside the library doors. The first curbside browsing event was held at YDL's Whittaker branch from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11 and was "well-attended," Killian says, with about 30 patrons visiting and checking out about 100 items.
Killian says staff are hoping to do more pop-up browsing events at all YDL branches, but dates will be intermittent and dependent on decent weather. Several more are planned for the next few weeks. Announcements of the pop-up browsing events are available through YDL's Facebook page.
Patrons can keep tabs on future self-care kit giveaways by watching the library's event page.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of YDL.