The Wilkinson Public Library is closed until further notice. But that only pertains to the building.
In every other way, it appears, the library is reaching out to the community right now, beginning with a unmistakable signal — a statement of purpose — from library director Saran Landeryou on the first page of its website.
A modern library is not merely a repository of words. It’s a bastion of ideas; a place that exists for the benefit of one’s entire community.
How do you get that across fast, in a divisive era? Not with words but images: It’s significant that the first thing you see on the Wilkinson’s website is not words but an image of linked hands of many colors along with a statement of reassurance: the library’s core values “of inclusivity, equality and access” are not only strong but more important than ever.
Glance down to your right, and seemingly instantly, a pop-up box appears, offering assistance from a WPL librarian (not a bot). This reporter encountered the message on a laptop, a tablet and a phone: “Hello! How may I help you?”
And there you are: a librarian is right there with you, meeting you where you are, asking you what you need.
If it is help with downloading a book, they can do that. If you can’t find your library card, there’s an easy solution for that, too.
If stimulating conversation and insight into this strange time is what you seek, there are people who have spent a lot of time researching and thinking about all this —such as historian Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of “American Zion” and David Quammen, who wrote the presciently-titled “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic,” both of whom were scheduled for a chat Thursday night— that you can listen to from wherever you happen to be, for free, via Zoom.
In search of more trenchant, topical talk?
“We’re holding a social justice and race-related book club discussion this month,” said Laura Colbert, who’s in charge of the Wilkinson’s adult programming. “The book is Richard Rothstein’s ‘The Color of Law,’ and our title for July is ‘Hood Feminism.’”
Perhaps you are craving a new confection (stress baking will do that to you), having long since mastered sourdough starter. It’s the time of year for fruit pies, and what is the bugaboo there? Crusts! And what does the Wilkinson offer? Instruction: A ‘Pie Crust Master Class’ subtitled “Learn to make beautiful pie crust every time!” (The online course is July 7.)
“We normally have a pie-baking contest every July,” said Laura Colbert, the Wilkinson’s head of adult programming. “This year, we can’t. So Bobbi Smith, from Between the Covers Bookstore, is going to help you make your pies beautiful with glazing, lattice and weaving.” (If anyone should also be able to recommend a few choice baking books out of the thousands available, it should be Smith.)
Aspiring scribes can learn from one of Telluride’s much-missed residents, slam poet Elissa Dickson, who recently relocated to Spain. Thanks to Zoom, Dickson’s not really gone: indeed, she is hosting a summer writing series right here, the next installment of which, “Shifting Identities,” is July 8 (the final segment, “An Appetite for Words,” follows on Aug. 10).
Do you miss Telluride’s summer music festivals? The library has been offering free instruction in how to play one of the instruments that will remind you of the sweet sounds of a mountain summer: mandolin, ukulele and guitar. Mandolin 101 took place about a week ago. “We have a Ukulele 101 class coming up in July,” Colbert said, “and Guitar 101 in August.” The classes are held outside in Telluride Town Park. Enrollment is limited to eight participants; join the wait list for Uke 101, or secure a spot for Guitar 101, at telluridelibary.org.