library

Canny construction: A caption on the Telluride library’s Facebook page reads, “I’m pretty sure they built the tallest marble run ever!” (Photo courtesy of the Wilkinson Public Library)

The virus is on the rise again, and indoor venues have mostly shuttered their doors.

Or, they ask you to show that you’ve been vaccinated, or to provide a negative test, before allowing you in.

They may ask you to sign a waiver.

The Wilkinson Public Library does none of these things. Indeed, it continues to offer a host of programs specifically for the unvaccinated, which is to say, ages five and under.

“We’re trying hard, for sure,” youth services manager Erin Hollingsworth said of the library’s mission to keep the public safe, as well as, most importantly, informed.

“We’re following all the county’s health protocols. We have a fancy HVAC system. The whole staff is vaccinated, and masks are required.”

Indeed, San Miguel County health regulations require masks be worn indoors for ages two and up.

This reporter couldn’t help but ask: Do any of the kids, of any age, ever kick up a fuss about wearing masks?

“Kids are easy,” Holingsworth said. “They’re used to it.” If caregivers forget their masks, “we have fun little kid-sized masks to choose from, which is exciting.”

For a child, choosing a new mask in an appealing color — bedecked with intriguing shapes — becomes an element of play. A new program on Friday mornings called “You & Me,” for youngsters and their caretakers, was designed with precisely this — and learning — in mind.

The program was created to fulfill a need in the community: “A lot of kids aren’t in class Fridays,” and families requested a program that would offer little ones (and their caretakers) a place to learn that day.

“Engaging kids outside of school is one of the most important things we can do right now,” public services manager Jill Wilson said. “We realize a lot of day cares aren’t open on Friday, so this brand-new program has come out of that.

“We offer another new program called Littles On the Move,” for toddlers not quite grown-up enough “that you can take them skiing,” Wilson said dryly. “Kids need a place to have these activities, and they keep parents sane, too. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old. I feel it.”

Some programs partner with local nonprofits, including the Ah Haa School and the Pinhead Institute, to offer instruction in art and science, respectively.

“We have a STEM session for little ones, and a cooking session,” Hollingsworth said.

Think STEM is just for bigger kids? Think again: “These are very basic experiments or challenges that little ones can do with their caregivers,” Hollingsworth explained, designed to demonstrate (and answer) questions such as, what floats? Or, what’s magnetic?

There is even a session for the smallest aspiring chefs. Dubbed Toddler Chef, “It might be something simple like fruit skewers, or baking bread,” Hollingsworth said. The point is to encourage creativity, and to inspire.

“We try to cover all the bases,” Hollingsworth said. Programs for little ones “are very informal. Caregivers can drop by; we put out fun toys, play music, and we play and chat.”

After-school programs for bigger kids also include cooking sessions, “and a building challenge, or a brain teaser,” such as Teen Trivia. There’s a teen cinema program. “And we’re kicking off a new program for tweens,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s for kiddos in grades 4-6. We’re calling it Tween Fridays.”

One program the library offers “is available 24 hours, seven days a week,” she added. It is StoryWalk — posterboards that tell a tale along the San Miguel River Trail, beginning right next to the library on Pine Street. “We keep it updated. We always have a new story every month,” come sun or snowfall, Hollingsworth said. The point is to keep kids moving and thinking: engaged with the world outside and in. “Kids are in school right now,” Hollingsworth said simply. Whenever they’re not, “We want to have something for them to do.”

For a list of the Wilkinson’s programming for kids, visit telluridelibrary.org/events.