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By Erica Blanton, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 06, 2020
Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.— Zechariah, 9, (top) and Angelica, 7, (bottom), children of Kristi Gutzman, attend the daily virtual read aloud story time hosted by Anna Dunson, the 21st Force Support Squadron library director, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on April 13, 2020. The library has a number of virtual events that families can participate in to connect with one another and continue fostering that sense of community that Team Pete has. (Photo courtesy of Kristi Gutzman).
The staff at the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado library has seen their fair share of changes recently. The facility closed late last year for cosmetic renovations as well as a cataloging system revamp and had just reopened to the public a few weeks before the stay-at-home order was issued.
Now the staff is working to ensure their patrons still feel supported, now in a virtual atmosphere.
“Yes, working from home has its limitations,” said Anna Dunson, 21st Force Support Squadron library director. “But the creativity and flexibility this situation has asked of most every household, especially those with children…Challenging? Most definitely. But from what I’ve seen across the community, challenge accepted!”
That need for creativity has staff sharing “secondhand” stories from authors and celebrities, as well as jokes from the library’s resident monster Floyd Peterson. But one event bringing the library experience to families are the daily story times.
The inspiration behind this event was inspired by one of Dunson’s childhood memories— summers spent listening to her mother read aloud— and a suggestion from frequent library patron, Kristi Gutzman.
“It started through a few texts back and forth when the quarantine started,” Gutzman said. “Just checking on how everyone was doing. When we heard that our library friends were missing human contact, I threw out the idea of them chatting to our kids about the books we had been reading together.”
Dunson then shared her ideas, and the collaboration turned into a virtual read aloud story time.
“I believe sharing in literacy is equally beneficial to parents and children,” Dunson explained. “It’s an experience that can grow into some of our most beloved memories, no matter how reluctant the reader.”
While Gutzman’s children think the event is “fun and funny,” as a parent she appreciates it too.
“The base library doesn’t just support the Peterson community,” Gutzman said. “It has been a community to our family. The kids know the librarians genuinely care about how they’re doing, and I am extremely thankful for these people at this time.”
And maintaining those important connections is what drives the Peterson library staff.
“Staying engaged is a proactive effort that I consider integral to the health of our resiliency,” said Dunson. “Both personal and communal. Interactions, not transactions, are at the heart of our library. These read-alouds reunite us with what sustains us— our customers.”
To join in the fun, see what the Peterson AFB library is doing next at 21fss.com.