The Youth Services Librarian goes home for story time

PORT TOWNSEND — According to Emily Bufford, the library is bigger than its stacks.

In high school, Bufford, now 26, reveled in the number of young people who came to the Jefferson County Library after school. As a 16-year-old Page there, she saw what a place it was to connect with the community; being surrounded by adults who are there for you.

“The books are amazing and I’m super passionate about reading,” she said on a recent afternoon.

But it was this sense of community and lifelong learning that kept her coming back to the library.

Bufford, who grew up on Marrowstone Island and earned a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington, has just become library director of Youth Services & Outreach at Port Townsend Library.

“This is the library my mother took me to when I was a kid,” long before she got that first job at the county library.

“It was really nice to come back,” said Bufford, who worked for two years at the Kitsap Regional Library on Bainbridge Island.

That work included youth programs and mobile services, and after the pandemic hit, she found a way to connect the two.

Bufford invited young library users to write letters – messages of encouragement and solidarity – to people staying at home.

More than 100 “Letters from your library” were delivered by the mobile services team.

“Emily is a ray of sunshine,” Port Townsend Library manager Melody Sky Weaver said.

It turned out that Bufford’s first appearance at the library’s Tuesday morning storytime was steeped in stuff.

On the grass where a tarp and a circle of chairs have been set up, Bufford joined associate librarian Paige Wynkoop, another new employee, and a small coterie of babies, toddlers and parents.

Wynkoop introduced a few picture books first, then invited everyone to pause, stand up, and squirm. Next is another book “Pete the Cat”.

Story Hours, which begin at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays outside the library at 1220 Lawrence Street, are part of the detailed spring programming on PTpubliclibrary.org.

Next up is the Summer Reading Program, which Bufford says is for kids, teens and adults.

“We will have many family-oriented programs,” she said, adding that she would host a weekly story hour at Chetzemoka Park at Blaine and Jackson streets from June through August. Bufford’s stories will begin there at 10:30 a.m. every Friday.

Weaver noted that Bufford, whose annual salary is $69,935, is part of a team of library staff that continues to meet the challenges of the pandemic era. They seek to provide COVID-safe programming, Weaver said, whether it’s outdoor storytimes or online author presentations.

The library recently restored its Sunday hours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., in addition to Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Face coverings are encouraged.

For those wishing to use the library outside these hours, all services are available 24/7 via PTpubliclibrary.orgnoted Weaver.

In-person indoor programs will restart at some point, the library manager said. She is also looking forward to exploring the return of the Salish After Hours and Summer at Salish programs to the Coast Salish Elementary School Library.

Of Bufford, Weaver added, “I’m so excited to see his vision for connecting customers of all ages.”

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Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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