The Mitchell Public Library is taking reading to the streets.

The library has created an outdoor storywalk during October in the downtown district. Pages of the picture book “Snowmen at Halloween” are displayed on sidewalk-facing windows and doors of 17 downtown businesses between First and Fifth Avenues in Mitchell. The pages are placed in a manner that allows parents and children to read the entire book by walking from business to business without having to go indoors, cognizant of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The storywalk begins at the 2nd and Lawler Company, and winds through the area of a few blocks before finishing at Logan Luxury 5 Cinema near the starting point. The storywalk will continue through Oct. 31.

It is the first time the library has done a storywalk-type event, said Mitchell Children’s Services Librarian Jean Patrick. Maps are also available at the Mitchell Public Library and at participating Storywalk businesses.

“We’re in a situation where currently we cannot provide on-site programming,” Patrick said. “We wanted to do something for kids and families and look for something we can do off-site, and we thought what better way to involve the downtown businesses.”

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The book is about snowmen doing trick-or-treating and it has strong illustrations, Patrick said.

“I wanted to choose a book that had fantastic illustrations, and this book does,” she said. “And as we all sadly know in South Dakota, it's not impossible to deal with snow in October. But it’s very well written, and these are illustrations that kids and parents alike can linger over."

Patrick said the book has some hidden pictures that children will likely appreciate when they look at the illustrations, which are original pages rather than being reproductions or copies.

“I have read this book countless times, and I notice something new in the illustrations all the time,” she said.

Katie Raak, a Mitchell mother of four young children, said her family took part in the storywalk recently. She said her two oldest children, ages 7 and 5, took turns reading the story to their 3-year-old sibling.

“My kids really enjoyed it and the chance to be outside,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for children to really learn and be physically active.”

Patrick said the plan is to hold another storywalk during the spring and involve businesses from Fifth Avenue going north in the downtown area.

It is the latest way the library has adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. Patrick has conducted daily online readings since mid-March at 12:30 p.m.. Sometimes it’s reading a book, or it can be jokes and riddles, or a craft activity or science demonstration. The library’s traditional Thursday storytime event is also broadcast online at 10:30 a.m. each week at the library’s Facebook page.

“It’s been much better than I would have expected,” Patrick said of the digital format. “We have a farther reach, rather than only reaching the people that can do it at a specific time. That is absolutely wonderful.”

The Mitchell Public Library has reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The first hour of each day is reserved for high-risk library patrons. All library users are expected to wear face coverings in the library.

Curbside pick-up is available on the east side of the building from 2 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 2 to 3:50 p.m. on Saturdays.

The following events are also taking place at the library:

  • On Oct. 29, the Mitchell Public Library will participate in the Read for the Record program, which is a worldwide program that involves more than 2 million participants reading the same children’s book. This year’s book is Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by author Meg Medina. Readings of that book will be virtual over the library’s Facebook page in English and Spanish.

  • The library is organizing a general fiction book club that will meet via Zoom. Registration is available on the city’s Library website under the Adult Services page. Technology and Circulation Assistant Zack North will lead the book club. The first selection is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, but book club members will make the reading selections from there forward.