The beginning of the school year signals different things to different people—the end of lazy summer days; the return of a familiar routine; or the opportunity for a new beginning. Another thing that it heralds is the end of the summer reading program at the library. This year was another great success for the Logan County Public Library in regard to its offerings. The yearly assessment of statistics has begun, and the numbers are quite impressive. This year, there were 124 programs for the enjoyment and education of our young people, with a whopping 5,455 in attendance at those events. Programs occurred daily through the week, with events at both the library and at the Housing Authority in Russellville. This year’s theme was “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” and featured many activities related to movement, sports, and other healthy choices.
The summer programs at the library are far more than just a story and a craft, though there are plenty of both. This year children were also able to witness magicians, jugglers, live animals, and more! Groups such as Logan County Gymnastics participated, even donating their time to help teach children basic skills and get them up and active. There was a new push this year to engage children in S.T.E.A.M. activities. For those unfamiliar with the term, the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. This initiative centers around exposing young people to hands-on involvement in these fields, with the expectation that interest at a young age will develop a more skilled, more capable workforce in the future. While the ultimate hope is to improve the economic outlook of our community, piquing the interest of children in these areas is fun through and through! This summer, all of the library’s S.T.E.A.M.-based events were sponsored by the Russellville branch of BB&T Bank. Local employees at BB&T applied for an intra-organizational grant called “The Lighthouse Project” with which they graciously elected to fund LCPL’s S.T.E.A.M. programming. Carole Ann Faulkner, Children’s Services Coordinator for Logan County Public Library, was so thankful to BB&T for choosing the library for their donation. “I was so excited that we were considered for this funding! I knew S.T.E.A.M. activities were something our children needed, and BB&T really helped make this happen. We are so grateful.”
Active again this year in supporting the library’s efforts was the local chapter of Friends of the Library. This group gives generously to support the library throughout the year, but of special interest to them is providing funds for some of the bigger children’s events during the summer. This year, the Friends group sponsored MadCap Puppets (a perennial favorite) and also a book giveaway, where every child was invited to take home three new books. “Our Friends are a vital part of our library’s success. They give
so generously to us, and we appreciate everything they do,” said King Simpson, director of LCPL.
Feeding the minds of our county’s youth is just one aspect of the summer reading program at the library. The library is also feeding their bodies. Each day that there were events at either the library or housing authority, library staff also distributed free sack lunches to children. These nutritional meals were supplied by a grant through the Russellville Head Start office to help make sure that children still have healthy meals available to them when school is out. Between the library’s two feeding sites, 3,720 sack lunches were handed out during the months of June and July. Beverly Terry heads the library’s efforts in this endeavor, and it is something that is obviously close to her heart. “Each year we try to make the program better than the year before. With this year’s theme being ‘On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!’, we introduced children to the different ways to entertain themselves through reading. Prizes were awarded, crafts were made, and we had a nutritional lunch every day. The most popular events were the obstacle course and bandana day!”
Even with great programming coordinated by library staff, the success of the summer reading program—like any community event—relies on advertising. Simpson points out, “without effectively getting the word out, no one knows about all the great things that are going on.” Carole Ann Faulkner goes to each elementary school at the end of the school year and talks to students about the upcoming summer reading program. Along with this, she delivers calendars which provide the date, time, and a description of each of the library’s summer programs. The calendars are also widely distributed by the library and other community organizations. This year, LCPL handed out 4,500 calendars that detailed the children’s programs. If you received one of these calendars, you likely saw a familiar logo on the back page. The 2016 calendars were sponsored by Logan Memorial Hospital, who made possible the efforts for the library’s events to be known far and wide.
Often we think of summer reading as a kids-only activity. This year, the library’s adult programming coordinator, Tracy Houchens, took some novel approaches (pun intended) to encourage adults to keep their minds engaged during the summer months. Houchens elaborated, “Several of our patrons mentioned that they would like to have something fun for the adults too, and since this was a first for our library, we chose a D.I.Y. theme.” There were a number of contests and giveaways, all associated with reading—events such as a dusty book challenge, which dared adults to peruse the stacks looking for particular books that had been overlooked for quite some time. Book suggestions also served as entry forms into another contest, where the grand prize was a Kindle ereader that had been donated to the library. There was also a scavenger hunt which familiarized players with oft-overlooked library resources.
The 2016 summer reading program is now in the history books, but the students and teachers are not the only ones back in their regular routine. Children’s Services Coordinator Carole Ann Faulkner and Adult Programming Coordinator Tracy Houchens are hard at work as well, not only conducting their standard programs, but also lining up programs for summer reading 2017. Faulkner, Houchens, and Terry are excited about more exciting summer programs to come, and they hope you are as well.