A Summer to Remember at the Lexington Main LibrarySeptember 8, 2017
Foundation News, In the Midlands, Love Where You Live
Special thanks to our blog author: Doreen Rinehart, Youth Services Librarian, Lexington Main Library
Summer reading, an important initiative across the country, focuses on helping parents encourage their children to keep reading and learning during the summer.
The Lexington Main Library’s Summer Reading Program is an integral part of summer for many of the children in Lexington School District One. While we already strive to help patrons “Love Where You Live,” this summer, my staff and I were thrilled to be able to use the grant provided by the Central Carolina Community Foundation to the Friends of the Lexington Main Library to enhance and enrich our summer reading program in order to reach a greater number and broader range of children.
Over the course of the summer, there were quite a few programs that were supported by this grant. We were able to begin a new program series called “The Art of the Picture Book,” in which local artist and Youth Services staff member, Brittany Gladden, highlights a picture book each month that showcases a unique art style. After showcasing the book and discussing the illustrators style, Brittany leads local kids in creating take-home art in the same media.
Each season, we look to provide new opportunities for the teenagers in our community. We want to offer unique experiences to bring teens in who may not have otherwise visited the library in the summer. This year, teens in middle and high school were able to participate in a library “escape room challenge” program. Escape room challenges are timed, self-contained programs wherein participants solve a series of puzzles hidden in a room in order to successfully complete the challenge. Attending a professional escape room can cost upwards of $30 or $40 per person, but our staff was able to create a one of a kind program and lead over 20 teens in this unique event.
We created several passive STEM programs during the summer to keep patrons engaged while they were in the library. We had DIY bookmarks, coloring pages, and zentangles around the room. Our LEGO Storybuilders Club program series was in its sixth year this summer, and was at the highest average attendance yet. Within our “Build a Better World” theme, we were able to advertise this STEAM and analytical skills-based program as a way to engage elementary-schoolers’ brains all summer long.
One of the most important impacts we were able to make through the funding provided by the Connected Communities Grant was the addition of a new end of summer event to mark the end of our Summer Reading Program and help our community connect to the library at the start of the school year. We were able to create an all-afternoon, festival-style program that featured local and regional performers as well as special presentations by staff members. Professional storyteller and professor emeritus, Patricia Feehan, performed for our youngest patrons. Youth Services Staff, “Storytime Squad,” presented a variety of puppet shows; Grammy-nominated local musician, Molly Ledford, and “Pears for Bears” presented a theatrical music performance for elementary students; Storytime Squad also came back for an elementary-age story-and-music variety hour, and professional illusionists, The Wagsters, performed for teens, adults, and children of all ages. Due to the generosity of this grant, all of these performances were free to the public.
We have always believed summer reading is important for our community’s kids. We were grateful to be able to provide a variety of new ways for Lexingtonians to “Love Where [they] Live” this summer.