We’ve wrapped up yet another unexpected year at the library. Despite the challenges we faced with pandemic-related closures and service limitations, we spent much of 2021 dreaming up new ways to bring you the best of Bethlehem Public Library in a safe and socially responsible way – from outdoor events and our Pop-up Library on the Plaza to take-and-make crafts along with Zoom author visits and trivia nights.
Some highlights from 2021:
• Our Luminaries for Hope display on the plaza walkway in early January was a way for our Bethlehem neighbors to share messages of hope for the new year.
• The library’s Kindness Matters campaign encouraged others to pay kindness forward.
• We launched a new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BethPL.
• Our seed library returned in the spring with a new online “shopping” portal. We also added home seed-starting kits to our Library of Things collection.
• We added a texting option to our curbside pickup service.
• Rock star, playwright and author Larry Kirwan paid a virtual visit and talked about his life and work, including his most recent novel “Rockaway Blue.”
• We celebrated National Poetry Month in April with a contest open to all ages.
• Coffee and Conversation hosted noted speaker Giacomo Calabria for a four-part virtual series highlighting the military science of the American Civil War.
• Creativebug, which provides thousands of high-quality, on-trend arts and crafts instructional videos, was added to the library’s digital resources.
• The Friends of Bethlehem Public Library held outdoor Pop-Up Book Sales in May and September, in what is likely to be an annual tradition.
• Bethlehem Public Library’s budget of $4.45 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year was overwhelmingly approved by voters. The levy portion represented a zero percent increase over the previous year. Voters re-elected incumbent Trustee Harmeet Narang.
• Multiple Story Strolls were set up around town so that families could enjoy a picture book and activities outside.
• Summer Reading returned with the theme Tales and Tails. Outdoor programs were scheduled throughout the summer to keep everyone engaged and reading.
• The library partnered with the town to provide family-friendly live entertainment all summer at our Thursdays in the Park series. We also welcomed the return of our Evenings on the Green summer music series. The rain may have delayed a couple of the programs, but we were caught up by early September.
• Children’s author and illustrator Jeff Mack stopped by for an outdoor event to talk about why and how he makes his books.
• Author Dr. Gretchen Sorin and filmmaker Ric Burns were part of a lively and important conversation sponsored by UHLS about the documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America.”
• A new mobile app launched that allows users to search the catalog, manage their accounts, place holds, pay fines and more.
• The Great Give Back provided an opportunity for library patrons statewide to partake in meaningful, service-oriented experiences. We hosted a collection for new, unopened household cleaning and hygiene supplies for the Bethlehem Food Pantry and held a drop in card decorating event.
• New York Times bestselling author Jean Hanff Korelitz, who has written seven novels, including “The Plot,” joined us for a virtual Q and A.
• October was a lively month for the library, with a virtual pumpkin-carving contest, trick-or-treating at the library and the community Trunk or Treat event at the town park.
• Our blood drive in November was well-attended after a year hiatus.
• The library distributed K9-95 masks and rapid COVID test kits provided by Albany County and the Town of Bethlehem Emergency Management Office.
• At year-end, circulation of library materials is once again approaching pre-pandemic levels.
— Kristen Roberts