WCLS gathering pandemic stories, offering curbside pick-up

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In 100 years, how will life during Covid-19 in Whatcom County be remembered? To help those in the future answer that question, Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) is encouraging Whatcom County residents to record their personal experiences.

WCLS partnered with several community organizations to present multiple projects in one cohesive webpage, titled “Peoples’ Perspectives: COVID-19 in Whatcom County.” Each project is affiliated with a different organization and involves various types of media. Some ask participants to write a letter while others call for art, photos or video.

WCLS executive director Christine Perkins believes it is important to document these unprecedented times.

“It’s giving us all time to reflect and ponder what our lives are like and what we want them to be in the future,” she said.

Several of the projects, including The Northern Light’s Young Reporters series, encourage children to share their experience. Perkins believes kids have a different perspective than adults and because they will lead the future, it’s important that their stories are told.

“Let’s make sure we ask them now to reflect and see over time if their memories match up with what they are saying currently,” Perkins said.

Not only will each project serve as a reminder of the pandemic for the people who participated in them, but Perkins hopes they will be useful as archival material for generations to come, akin to people learning from the 1918 influenza pandemic today, Perkins said.

WCLS begins curbside pick-up

On June 8, WCLS began offering curbside pick-up at every branch in the county. Though digital resources have been, and will continue to be, available, library card-holders can now pick up physical materials, such as books and DVDs, without leaving their car.

To check out a resource, card-holders can place holds online at wcls.org or call their local WCLS branch. Once the item is available, library staff will contact the recipient to schedule a pick-up time. The curbside service can be completely contactless; staff place paper bags with library material in the recipient’s trunk or recipients can grab their bag from the door. Perkins encourages those without a library card, to sign up for one. It is free and easily available online or over the phone.

Though curbside pick-up certainly makes more resources available, Perkins said the closure of library buildings has affected those without online access.

“One of the major ways it’s impacted the community is by reducing access to our public Internet computers,” Perkins said.

WCLS offers drive-up WiFi, meaning people can connect to the Internet for free in a library parking lot, and library staff is available for help at WCLS’ main phone line. Perkins said WCLS employees have assisted people with everything from searching job listings to reading Bible verses over the phone.

The library also has tax forms available upon request and can print out and mail any document to those without online access.

Perkins encourages anyone who has questions about placing holds, obtaining a library card or getting online access to call 360/305-3600. She also hopes to see more community members participate in the People’s Perspectives project.

“In this time it would be easy to just be living in it, in the moment, and not take the time to reflect on it,” Perkins said. “We’re hoping by publicizing this project it really gets spread far and wide.”

For more information, visit “Peoples’ Perspectives: COVID-19 in Whatcom County” at wcls.org/covidperspectives/.

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