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Bitterroot Public Library offers online Story Time
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Bitterroot Public Library offers online Story Time

The Bitterroot Public Library has partnered with Sapphire Lutheran Homes and the City of Hamilton to create Story Time online for its youngest patrons, pre-readers and earliest readers in the time of social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Wendy Campbell is the assistant director and youth services librarian and Dominic Farrenkopf is the Hamilton mayor and director of community life at Sapphire Lutheran Homes.

“Dominic Farrenkopf has been a regular guest storyteller at the Bitterroot Public Library for years, and has traditionally volunteered for Story Times that coincide with major holidays,” Campbell said. “He was scheduled to read stories dressed as a leprechaun in March and also dressed as a bunny in April. With the shutdown in March, we made plans to do a Story Time video outside so that we could follow directives and still stay connected to the community.”

Campbell said the original plan was to bridge the gap created between senior living facilities and children in the community.

“The closest we could come to that vision was taping the video on the Sapphire Assisted Living Center lawn and sharing that with library Story Time families and Sapphire residents via our Facebook pages,” Campbell said. “With an ongoing shutdown, I realized that continuity of library services requires more than one form of delivery, and the pandemic served as the catalyst to use online formats.”

Campbell and Farrenkopf are in their sixth week of cohosting the Story Time at outdoor locations and city parks with songs, stories, humor and facts about the theme.

On May 15, with the theme of ducks, Campbell and Farrenkopf seated themselves along the canal in Hieronymus Park at the north end of town.

The popular walking trail had walkers with their dogs on leashes, fishermen and city park employees passing by the recording session. Two mallard ducks even came to see what the excitement was all about. The recording session lasted nearly 20 minutes and was designed to be entertaining for age 3 to 5, but is accessible to all ages.

The casual, relaxed and friendly interaction between Campbell and Farrenkopf is just right for a younger audience.

Farrenkopf read “Duck in the Truck” and “Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type” while Campbell showed photos and discussed different types of ducks that can be seen in the Bitterroot Valley.

Farrenkopf said he enjoys the performing experience.

“I love words, I love books, I love putting together words into stories and I love telling stories,” he said. “Because I have this great love for literature I want to share it. I do that by reading for Story Time.”

Farrenkopf said adults have a responsibility to the younger generation to educate them and encourage them to enjoy reading.

“I want young children to enjoy reading and not see it as a chore,” he said. “I also like families to come together around books and this story time brings it all together. Normally, I read at the holidays because I dress in costume. Now that we’re doing it online we just do a theme, no costumes.”

Pre-COVID-19, the Bitterroot Public Library had Story Time with interactive activities each Friday but the online recording can be accessed anytime. The YouTube presentation can be seen on Bitterroot Public Library’s Facebook page, Sapphire Lutheran Homes’ page or https://tinyurl.com/yb2j7cdw.

“This new Story Time connects different groups and people together specifically city, seniors, library and families,” Campbell said. “Dominic and I are both hoping that our little Story Times are fun for children and adults. We see this as something we will continue long after this very difficult time.”

Currently, the Bitterroot Public Library, 306 State St., is open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. But time is limited and only a few patrons can enter at one time. For more information, call 406-363-1670 or email info@bitterrootpubliclibrary.org.

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With Independence Day coming, the City of Hamilton is actively seeking contributions to fund the 4th of July fireworks display. To contribute, mail a check to: City of Hamilton, 223 S. 2nd Street, Hamilton, MT 59840 or participate through a retailer or community fundraising project.

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