A 6 foot fichus tree stands inside Warrenton Community Library. Scattered throughout its leaves are colorful paper leaves, full of drawings, scribbles and children’s wishes.
The leaves were added to the tree ahead of one of the library’s recent storytime events, in which children were asked to share a constructive, positive wish that they had.
In the months since, library patrons have added wishes of their own to the tree. Some are wishes for themselves, while others focus on helping out other people.
One of the wishes on the tree asks for a wagon to help the library get outside of its building and into the community. The wish’s creator is Mary Goff, the library’s new youth services specialist, who started her role in October. Her role is dedicated to collaborating with and serving youth and families.
Goff was raised in southern Oregon. Throughout her career, she has focused on encouraging students, especially in science. She spent 20 years as a teacher and earned a master’s degree in science education from Oregon State University. She also has worked as a career counselor and traveled around the world.
She plans to continue helping children learn about science as a library employee.
“We are working on hybrid activities such as a teen advisory board, indoor and outdoor story time, and developing and checking out STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) kits for older students that allow for safe distancing while actively engaging youth in hands-on activities within our community,” Goff said.
Goff hopes to complement and support the curriculum educators are using for students currently — many of whom have been attending class virtually this school year.
“(I am) putting my heart and soul in this because this is the time to make a difference for families and learning at this incredibly challenging time in history,” Goff said.
The library employs a hybrid model of teaching. Library staff have recently focused more on outdoor activities like singing and jumping, along with some quieter indoor activities — all of which allow for social distancing and mask wearing. Staff are careful to adhere to safety requirements based on county statistics and guidance.
Goff wants to help engage and empower students in their interests and talents, she said. She is using a recent library survey, in which 153 local students participated, to create curriculum based off of what students suggested in the survey that they’d like to have in the library.
One project library staff is working to complete because of the survey is to expand the library’s “Library of Things,” where patrons can borrow guitars, an electric violin with a small amp, elementary STEM-themed kits, board games, binoculars and an Instant Pot.
“I want to partner directly with Warrenton and hopefully Seaside teachers and make STEM age-appropriate kits that can be checked out for youth,” Goff said.
She also hopes to create leadership roles for older students to mentor and tutor younger students. She also plans to work with local businesses and organizations to help create more activities for underserved groups, such as students who don’t or can’t use computers.
“We want those students to go further,” Goff said. “We really want community input about the activities we do, whether for young kids or teens. We want to value, serve and collaborate within and across the community.”