The Valley of the Tetons may have seemed quiet during the past few months, but appearances can be deceiving. The staff and board of the library has been hard at work with renovations, program expansions, and innovative new offerings to keep the community inspired, connected, and engaged. From facility upgrades to collection expansions, in addition to an array of online opportunities, the Valley of the Tetons Library has more than risen to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Chris Johnson, library director, explained that the libraries have implemented strategies to maximize the safety of both patrons and staff as the restrictions of the pandemic continue to evolve. “We’re happy to announce a new schedule of services based on the risk levels laid out by Eastern Idaho Department of Health for our county. This schedule will be posted on our doors, website and advertised in this paper,” he said. He also emphasized that staff are being deliberate about taking a 1-2 p.m. break to get some outdoor mask-free time and prioritize their own mental health.

“The library is offering limited in-person and curbside services five days a week. Our buildings are now equipped with certified ozone-free ionizers to improve air quality and remove potential virus flow through our air systems,” Johnson continued. Other available services include home delivery for high-risk patrons, overnight laptop checkouts, therapy lamp checkouts, and “Take It & Make It” kits based around crafts and cooking for people of all ages to explore and learn.

The Victor location of the library has expanded its tool library, a handy resource for anyone working on crafting or remodeling projects looking to avoid purchasing a specific tool. From hand tools to electric power tools, yard implements and even a roof snow rake, the Tool Library offers a variety of useful items that can be checked out with a library card.

“There’s a really amazing diversity of tools in the collection,” said library board member Savannah Wake, noting that she relied heavily on the resource during a recent home renovation project. “It’s extremely easy to use. You can browse the catalog online or in the library, and check out what you need for a week.” Johnson added that the tools are only available to adults, and they prefer items to be returned during library hours to ensure none are stolen or misplaced.

The library is also thrilled to open the doors on its new MakerSpace, adjacent to the Driggs library location. “The MakerSpace has its own location with four separate, reservable spaces for toddler play, media recording, crafting or making, and computer coding or needs,” explained Wake.

“The old dance studio is now a MakerSpace area, and it’s pretty fancy,” added Johnson. There are a diversity of crafting supplies and machines, audio recording equipment, media room, and toddler toy area. “A lot of the people that I talk to think the MakerSpace is just for kids,” observed library board member Pauline McIntosh. “Really, it’s for any age! Maybe once Covid is over, we’ll be able to have a grand opening and introduce the community to all that’s happening there.”

Patrons can reserve any or all of the MakerSpace areas, and the full space is cleaned between guests to maximize safety.

Another benefit of the new MakerSpace occupying the new building is additional room for expansion in the Driggs library.

“We have also done some extensive remodeling and reorganizing in the Driggs space to create more shelving for books and space for patron use,” Wake said. “Over the past few months, the library hasn’t been as accessible to the public, and some people have been feeling that really acutely. But there has been a great deal going on, and there still are many important services that are available.”

Other facility changes in Driggs include repainting, reorganizing, a new staff and used book area, and a community meeting room. A multipurpose area will include a new teen area and study space, and the front area will feature more openness for a spacious flow and the possibility of gatherings in the future.

With warmer weather on the horizon, the library has also put plans in the works for outdoor seating with WiFi access, as well as outdoor story time for kids.

Wake recommends signing up for the library’s new monthly newsletter and calendar on the website, and you’ll be updated on the latest events, activities, and opportunities at the Valley of the Tetons Library.