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Wyoming Libraries Accommodate During COVID-19


About 40% of Wyomingites have a library card, which makes many resources available while staying at home. Curbside pickup, increased access to audiobooks, and e-readers eliminate the need to go inside a library and pick up a book. But librarians across the state are still looking for better ways to help communities access all their services.

Wyoming State Librarian Jamie Markus said that often when there is economic trouble, individuals can go to the library for help.

"The public library becomes a place for those affected individuals to go to use a public access computer to work on their resume," Markus said. "To take a course on how to write a resume."

Marcus said many libraries have also expanded their Wi-Fi to extend into their parking lots for those without access to the internet. Before the pandemic, the state's 900 public computers were being used every day.

In addition to books, libraries often have classes and meeting areas for adults and programming for kids, such as story time.

Wyoming Library Association President Jacob Mickelsen said that he worries the pandemic and its safety precautions might lead to fewer lifetime library users.

"If someone uses the library as a child because maybe they went to storytime or did the crafts or something like that, they are going to keep going their whole lives," Mickelsen said. "So, I am concerned for the future in that regard. I worry about attracting those new users in this crazy time."

Mickelsen said that the Natrona County Library is trying to combat this by providing activities like crafts for kids and adults to safely take home and enjoy.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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