This summer has been like no other for the staff at Van Alstyne Public Library.

An operation that has traditionally revolved around the physical exchange of materials has had to completely reimagine how it serves the community due to the pandemic.

Programming meant to attract larger gatherings of people has had to be transformed to meet the needs of a different era.

The library is now open Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Curbside pick-up is also available to those who email the library ahead of time.

Its flagship children’s storytime program has been revamped as a hybrid model, with in-person and virtual story times alternating every other week.

The popular summer reading program was also changed to an online model this year. The deadline for students to complete its reading requirements is Aug. 14. Those who do will receive prize bags.

"It’s been a challenge, but it’s been fun as well," Librarian Judy Kimzey said.

U.S. Census Bureau-trained staff members will be on hand at the Van Alstyne Public Library from 12-4 p.m. July 31.

Their mission will be to assist any person who needs help completing the 2020 census.

Kimzey hopes that those who have not yet done so will take advantage of the free assistance.

"The important thing about the census, and what people need to understand, is that once census data is collected, you are stuck with it for 10 years," she said. "The more responses you get, the more accurate we are in terms of how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed to the community."

Data collected from the census will be used to allocate federal funding for things like health care, education, emergency services and the local library.

Those who miss the event but still need to complete their censuses are welcome to do so any time during normal library business hours. They may use one of the onsite computers or bring their own device and take advantage of the library’s free Wi-Fi.

The coming months will bring additional changes at the library.

Thanks to money provided by the federal government’s COVID-19 relief fun, the library will soon have improved internet. Currently, the building still runs on digital subscriber line (DSL) service. While adequate, it doesn’t meet the speeds that most people are used to.

This fall, the library will finally transition to faster fiber cables. Two new Wi-Fi towers will also be installed. Once complete, residents will be able to enjoy free internet outside the library 24 hours per day, seven days per week.