WPL

Many more new selections than might fit on the Wilkinson Public Library’s wall are available online. “Best. Library. Ever,” a fan wrote on the library’s Facebook page. “How blessed indeed is Telluride to have such a fantastic facility full of helpful and intelligent staffers!” (Photo courtesy of the Wilkinson Public Library/Facebook)

The Wilkinson Public Library is more than beloved — it is a critical fixture of this community. 

Exactly how critical? 

Turns out, there’s a way not only to measure that, but to also get awarded for it.

Just like an ‘A’ student (which makes sense when you consider one of the library’s chief missions is to assist students of all ages), the Wilkinson more than passed the test. For 13 years straight, it’s been awarded the highest possible designation — a coveted Five Stars — from the Library Journal based on “use per capita.”

Now imagine your usefulness, your raison d’etre, being taken away. Enter the pandemic. “It was difficult to have to shut our doors,” said Library Director Sarah Landeryou, with considerable understatement. “For years, we’ve consistently focused on the library’s programs and place as a community center: Come one, come all.” 

Suddenly the question became “What are we?”

Clearly, the Wilkinson was no longer a mere building (not that it ever was). A library’s bigger purpose is to serve: as a repository for ideas, and community connection. And so, as Landeryou said, “We’re reaching out.” Indeed, the library is literally coming to you, via a slate of new services. The services began with curbside pick-up and deliveries to seniors, and have now expanded to deliveries to, well, everyone. Simply email delivery@telluridelibrary.org with an order, and librarians will deliver whatever it is you seek (provided it is in-stock) on Tuesdays and Fridays to cardholders anywhere in the Wilkinson’s district, “from Down Valley to Placerville all the way up Lizard Head pass,” Landeryou said.

And speaking of seeking, “We have a ton of new items!” as Public Services Manager Jill Wilson put it in an email to the Planet. Specifically, the library has recently buttressed its new-release DVD collection; added numerous adult fiction and non-fiction titles; and purchased dozens of new picture books for kids. (For a preview, visit the library’s website at telluridelibrary.org, and click on the ‘Browse Catalog’ tab under Books and More.)

Also new — and another the way the library is coming to you — is via fun, and surprise. Just phone or send a text to 970-729-8129 with your reading level, your preference for fiction or non-fiction and the genre or topic you’re interested in, and a librarian will assemble a grab bag of titles with your name on them. (Delivered to your home, for good measure.) The library is also “making it easier than ever to participate” in its summer reading program, Wilson said. Head to telluridelibrary.org and click on Summer Reading to register. Summer reading programs for all ages are on offer, and all offer the chance to win “awesome local prizes.”

Other Wilkinson’s popular programs continue this summer season, as well. Who needs a building? Or for that matter, a holiday respite? On Monday, Memorial Day, a time when 99.99 percent of all libraries are closed, the Wilkinson will help to facilitate a discussion with Mountainfilm guest Amanda Little, the author of “The Fate of Food.” The interview is at 5:30 p.m.; sign up for it and then watch it online through a link at the libray’s website.

The library is reaching out to the community in more personal ways, as well. 

Flummoxed by technology, for example? Chat with a librarian any day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for assistance downloading ebooks, or for help figuring out how to find ebooks and audiobooks at other libraries that the Wilkinson cooperates with. 

Are you starved for the company of fellow bibliophiles, or need an outlet to rant or rave about what you’ve been reading? “Coffee and Conversation” is online each Wednesday at 10 a.m. 

The Wilkinson’s free legal help program is back every Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. (use the ‘Chat’ function at the library’s website to sign up). 

May is Mental Health Month, and the library has been hosting weekly Happiness Hours in partnership with Tri-County Health each Friday at 4:30 p.m. The last takes place next Friday, May 29; sign up at telluridelibrary.org.

In short, there’s a program, or a book or DVD, or free assistance, for pretty much everyone here. “We’ve kind of transitioned from, ‘Oh my g-d, the library is closed,” Landeryou summed up. The pandemic “has pushed us to develop,” and to redevelop, “and to reach out.” No question a pandemic is a slow-rolling tragedy. Yet the process undertaken by Landeryou and her “agile, flexible” staff as a result of the pathogen has proved “pretty exciting,” she said. “We’re reimagining ourselves. I think that’s what libraries just do.”