On the scale of damages inflicted by Hurricane Michael in early October, the Gulf County Libraries fared pretty well, at least physically.
At the Corinne Costin Gibson Memorial Library in Port St. Joe, a hole was carved into the roof.
This, of course, allowed Michael’s rains full entry.
“It only affected the furniture,” said Nancy Brockman, coordinator of the Gulf County Libraries. “And a globe, that was also lost.”
Not just any globe, but one donated in memory of Alice Core by a book club comprised of Indian Pass residents.
“They have graciously said they will replace it,” Brockman said.
At the Charles Whitehead Memorial Library in Wewahitchka a tree fell on the roof; only the removal of the tree, during which a window was shattered, left a mark.
Certainly, there were rippling impacts.
Staff was scattered for a time after the storm and Brockman had to make the difficult decision to cancel a Smithsonian-sponsored exhibit, “Hometown Heroes,” which dealt with the role of sports in small communities.
“I did not feel comfortable putting up a Smithsonian exhibit given the roof,” Brockman said.
On the other hand, the Florida Humanities Council agreed to allow the library to use grant funds not expended on the exhibit to be spent replacing materials lost to the storm.
“That was very generous of them,” Brockman said, adding that there is the possibility the Smithsonian exhibit arrives next year.
And, lastly on the impacts side of the ledger, the absence and subsequent spottiness of access to the Internet, an important component of library operations, played a role in re-opening as did the libraries locations adjacent to FEMA/SBA Disaster Recovery Centers.
“It was a combination of things, but we finally got open, at least a soft opening, in early November,” Brockman said. “We weren’t really making a big deal of it because of the Internet and we weren’t sure the roof would hold.
“It was important to get Internet access.”
Check and check and the libraries are now both open for regular hours.
“We will start doing some programming and we will roll out more programs as we can,” Brockman said, arriving at the last ripple of impact.
In the wake of Michael, and with estimates of tough budget years ahead, the Board of County Commissioners cut funding to non-county agencies, such as the libraries, by 4 percent.
The Port St. Joe branch will host a reception for its “Book Artists” program 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. ET Saturday.
The program, in collaboration with Leslie Wentzell at The Artery, allowed children ages 4-10 to explore different types of art found in children’s books.
A book was read, the art style discussed and the children worked to create a work of art in the same style as the illustrator.
Art types explored included pointillism, collage, and printmaking. The children’s art is currently on display at the library.
The reception will also include holiday music by the Ukulele Orchestra of the Forgotten Coast beginning at 11 a.m.with refreshments afterwards.