It was a summer evening spent strumming a ukulele while supporting a local library at the same time.
Those who love the ukulele gathered recently in MacGregor Park for an outdoor session on the finer points of this small, stringed instrument.
The program was part of Derry Public Library's continuing efforts to bring programs and resources to its patrons during the coronavirus pandemic.
Libraries around the region continue to navigate safe programming for families and individuals as the summer moves on, many coming off a successful virtual summer reading program for all ages and planning for fall events and activities.
That includes offering a combination of both in-person services, online programs for all ages, and outdoor events where safe distancing is key and library fun is paramount.
Some libraries are hosting activities with safety in mind, including curbside pickup of materials ordered ahead of time, and offering in-person appointments to enjoy children's areas and computer space.
Children and families also online storytimes, craft activities and other remote library possibilities via Facebook and other platforms.
At Derry Public Library, patrons can make appointments to come inside for computer use and Children's Room time, and also can utilize the library's pickup service to get a hold of some favorite reading or other items.
Jessica DeLangie, head of the library's Technical Services, led the recent ukulele program and said another program is set for Wednesday, Sept. 2, also in MacGregor Park next door.
"We are very lucky to have that space next to the library," she said, adding the library's teen and children's staff also plan to utilize the green space next door while the weather is still warm.
DeLangie said the library is doing well with how it's handling the pandemic right now, but any more decisions would be a collective effort between staff, and library trustees. That includes keeping a plan with steps in place to maintain all safety measures at the library.
"We're good where we are now," DeLangie said.
Taylor Library in East Derry, as well as Leach Library in Londonderry also continue with virtual programs, pick-up services and online and virtual programming. Taylor also offers appointment-only inside time for an hour each day with specific spaced out times available to help monitor the number of patrons indoors.
In Windham, the staff at the Nesmith Library are also keeping a close watch on the pandemic challenges, making sure the library follows a strict phased-in approach for handling services, programs and activities.
"Here in Windham, our Nesmith library community has embraced our efforts to provide our services in a safe manner," said library Director Sylvia Brikiatis. "Our curbside pickup has been a hit and we’ve had many patrons express their desire for it to continue."
Brikiatis said the library has also provided “mystery bags” for patrons who prefer to let library staff do the browsing.
As the pandemic continues, Brikiatis said the state's libraries have stepped up to the challenge the public health crisis has presented.
"We have run summer reading programs that meet our mission of encouraging literacy over the summer," she said. "They just look a little different this year. Many libraries have hired performers to do programs virtually, storytimes are being held virtually or outdoors. Books are still being checked out, either curbside or with some sort of limited access to the building. Crafts are prepackaged and being sent home with families and are often paired with a virtual how-to with their favorite children’s librarian."
The Nesmith Library's phases of reopening, a schedule showing various colors of reopening safety protocols and what is allowed, has the library now at the green level. This means the building is open for restricted browsing except for the Children's Room; face coverings are required; and a book drop, virtual and pick-up kit programs and a curbside pickup service are in effect.
The final level is blue, where the library would have a full public opening for services, no longer requiring face masks, and normal in-person circulation and programming.