NOTE: ARCHIVED ARTICLE FROM CITYOFCAMAS.US FROM DAY OF ITS ORIGINAL POSTING.
Beginning March 26, Camas residents will be seeing this postcard in their US mailboxes! It's an invitation to call our new City of Camas Resource Helpline at 360-382-1300 and 1) REQUEST a resource, or 2) OFFER to be/provide a resource for someone else.
LEARN MORE – For more information on the new helpline, please watch today’s video featuring Camas Library Director Connie Urquhart: https://youtu.be/1rokMijlqac. A summary is offered below.
FORM OPTION – Helpers, you can also fill out this form instead of calling in: https://bit.ly/BeACamasHelper
SENIOR SUPPORT – This effort is especially aimed at supporting our Camas senior citizens who aren't connected online and might need extra assistance during this time of staying home and staying healthy.
THE FINE PRINT FOR CALLERS – If you are having a life-threatening medical or mental health emergency, please hang up and call 911. This is a referral line for services that may be offered locally, and for information we might be able to provide. It is not intended to take the place of other medical, legal, professional, or governmental services. Those might be available to you as well.
VIDEO SUMMARY – Today’s video features Mayor McDonnell and Camas Library Director Connie Urquhart. Connie has been the directorfor 4 years, has 18 years’ experience in library business, has a master’s degree in library information and science, and has written her own book, Risky Business: Taking And Managing Risks In Library Services For Teens, which is in the library.
How has the library been operating and what have you been doing differently?
We’ve been following the COVID-19 situation for some time now, and we knew we’d have to change up how we were doing things, because we have so many families and people coming in. A few weeks back, we started quarantining our books. When people would return them, they’d sit in quarantine for two days. At the time, we didn’t know how long the virus was sitting on books, but we made our best, educated guess.
We’ve also canceled all of our programs through the end of March and canceled all of our room reservations in our meeting rooms. That was the game plan a few weeks ago, and then as of last Monday, we decided to close, as that was the best course of action at the time given Gov. Inslee’s proclamation of no gatherings of 50 people or more. We knew with the library being so busy, we just couldn’t accommodate that. But things change every day.
One of the things that I think has been great, and which the team has been doing, is everyone reaching out to other jurisdictions and their peers in other areas to figure out what they’re doing and to get ideas. Curbside pick-up is one of those things. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
**NOTE: Curbside Service is no longer offered, in accordance with Gov. Inslee's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order**
Librarians are great for reaching out to each other and seeing what wonderful ideas we all have so we don’t recreate the wheel. One of our fellow libraries had the fabulous idea of doing curbside service, which basically means that even though are libraries are closed, we can still provide service to our community. We allowed people to continue to put items on hold, and then we would fill them. They could call and let us know when they were ready to pick them up, and we’d put them in a bag with their name on it, and put them in the front of the library in our cute, little purple outreach booth so they were easy to recognize and people could pick them up. We did that all last week, and by the end of the week, the amount of holds picked up compared to the same week a year ago, was up over 1000%.
Wow, that’s awesome! When you think of Gov. Inslee talking about how we think about things differently and approach things differently and I heard what you were doing, I thought that was great. And it’s just an important service, while maintaining social distancing.
It’s our mission to serve the community, and we try to do it any way that we can, despite what gets thrown our way.
We appreciate it, and lots does get thrown your way. Last Saturday I threw something your way. We’re trying to maximize our time the best we can and utilize our staff the best we can to serve the community.
My concern was that we have a lot of individuals who don’t have access to the internet, who are not savvy on computers, who are may be more susceptible to it, maybe the older generation, but aren’t as comfortable getting that information. The idea was to get a phone number that someone could call, and it would forward to the different staff we have, starting with the library. My Monday we had pretty much figured it out. It’s been fun to watch it evolve and you’ve taken it and run with it. The mailer is now printed and in the mail, and some people have already received it. Can you talk about the program?
I don’t work alone; I have a fabulous team. The first thing I did was call up my Technology & Collections Manager Danielle Reynolds and said, “Here’s what the Mayor wants. What can we do?” As librarians, we went researching. We found a great online, cloud-based phone service that basically allows for my staff to be a call service from the comfort of their home. They’re safe, they’re healthy, and they’re receiving calls from home from anyone who feels like they might need grocery pick-up, their meds picked up from the pharmacy, or maybe just a buddy to talk to because they’ve been in isolation so long, and they’re going a little bit crazy.
We are there to receive those calls and then to match them with volunteers who are willing to make those runs to the grocery, make those runs to the pharmacy, and be that person talk to.
It’s really twofold: it’s to receive the calls for the people who need those services, and also to receive those call for people who want to volunteer. That number is 360-382-1300
NextDoor has something similar called the Help Map, and it’s awesome NextDoor is doing that. But like you said, not everybody is dialed in to all the soc med platforms and this is an opportunity for someone who just feels more comfortable picking up the phone and calling, and then we’re that friendly voice on the other side to help them. We can be the facilitator to match the volunteer with the person who needs help. After that, on their own they can figure out the details.
We’re all about neighbors helping neighbors in this town. Camas is about community. The library wants to help facilitate that. I think the City and you as mayor want to be the leading force for that, and I applaud your efforts in getting us on the right foot.
I just have certain ideas, and you’re able together some impressive results. Again, we’re testing it out. We’ll see how it works, but I think we need to ensure we’re looking after one another – that is a very important part of it.
We are a unique community, and this is a time we do have to pull together to support each other.
When I first started, we talked about how important libraries are. When it comes to the community, that’s the place where the community comes together. It’s a meeting place, it’s a place of learning, of education, and it’s so impressive to see the transition now from a place and location, to still serving the community, helping connect the community, in a time when we can’t physically come together.
I can’t thank you enough for stepping to the challenges – all the department heads have stepped up to the challenges, and we’ll be able to utilize some of their people as well, depending on how many calls we get. I feel very confident that we’re starting to connect people, and we’ll see how it goes.
If you’re interested in volunteering, call the phone number: 360-382-1300. There’s always a way to do that online as well at https://www.cityofcamas.us/81-city-news/1548-resource-helpline. Thank you for recognizing that libraries are that community hub. I’d like to recognize my staff for stepping up and taking these calls during this time, because it’s just what libraries do, and I’m just so thankful for the staff I have.
I’m very thankful as well, as is the City, and everyone, I think. You put together some really great events, and it’s a really great place. My kids have a lot of great memories that they have and will continue to have, so thank you.
We might check in again at some point -- maybe you can give us an update as far as what we’re seeing out -- but thank you for your support. I appreciate it.