The cool thing about being a librarian is that learning never ends

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Our Afternoons @ the Library program is in full swing for school-age kids. We’ve had a lot of game play, building of things, and creativity expressed by everyone who has shown up.

Having a weekly door-prize drawing does help, of course. From 4-6pm, Monday through Thursday, the Learning Center and the rest of the library is buzzing with children and young adults. On Thursdays, we let the young adults have a special area away from the other kids, where we can do slightly older stuff. It’s nice to hear the children playing and learning, and to talk to them. Boy do we talk. I know absolutely everything there is to know about the town’s water park, thanks to one girl, and about one young man’s frustrations with Ant Man not being part of the Avengers yet, in the movie universe. We play, we experiment, and sometimes the craft project actually comes out the way we intend. Apparently that tiny triangle piece goes on the owl’s head. It only took us two hours to figure it out, the other day.

I know the kids enjoy it; they wouldn’t keep coming back. But I enjoy it too. I get to hear their ideas, watch them have fun and discover things, and maybe have an impact on their growing and learning.

I’m getting another chance to do that, starting tomorrow, the 21st. Monday at 5pm, the library is hosting it’s first Girl Scout meeting. Troop #690559 is about to start a year of discovery for girls in grades kindergarten through third. It will be my first time as a volunteer, and not as a scout, so I have as much learning to do as the girls! It should be fun for all of us. (If your child is interested, there is still time to register either at the meeting, or online at kansasgirlscouts.org)

We’ve also discovered adult coloring books. It seems that we’re a bit on the back end of this trend; people all over the Internet are enjoying these intricate pages, meant to reduce stress while inspiring creativity. We’ve been passing around a book at the library, so everyone that works here can color a page. And next month we’ll be having two coloring play dates for adults. Thursday, October 15th at noon, and Thursday the 22nd at 6:30 pm, we’ll be hosting an adult color-in, so we can all enjoy this new hobby together.

Lastly, my major learning experience for next month is going to be all of our makeup and costuming classes. I’ll be working with the younger kids on Tuesdays, and the older kids on Thursdays, and a professional artist will be coming into the library on a Thursday night and Saturday. We’ll be making animal ears and tails, painting faces like creepy dolls, making hoods out of pillowcases, and working on the occasional obligatory zombie face. I have a theater background, but it’s sure to be an interesting time, doing so many makeup and costume programs in such short succession. I’m hoping to be a red fairy for Halloween, so I’d better get my practice in, now!

Back to School at the Library

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back to schoolThis week is a little bittersweet at the library. As kids go back to school, a calm now settles over the library during the day. We will of course miss the kids, but we are also excited to get extra time during the day to plan new activities, programs, and get the library back together after a busy summer.

We learned quite a bit over the summer about what activities get the kids and adults excited about the library and those activities that just fell flat. With that knowledge in hand we have some good ideas on how to enhance current programming offered to children and young adults and what new programming will hopefully hit the mark. We are excited to get these rolled out during these first few weeks of the school year.

Starting August 31st at the Library is our Afterschool Program from 4pm-6pm, Monday through Thursday. Last year when we did the Afterschool Program we had different activities for each day. We will continue with this idea, but will broaden our scope to include more activities and crafts and to also include things for the kids to do that are independent of that day’s plan. Hopefully this will allow us to provide something that will be exciting for every kid that walks through our door. Different this year than last is that we will switch from calling it the Afterschool Program and start calling it the Afterschool Club. (Yes. The first thing we need to do in Afterschool Club is come up with a new name.) We are going to a sign up process for the club that will allow kids to gain points from Club related activities. Kids who join the club (which is free) will also get points for reading, community activities, and other library related programs. At the end of each month, the kids who have gained a certain amount of points will get to partake in a special party just for them. We are making the list of ways to get points pretty extensive, so my hope is that all kids will find they qualify for the party. If you know of any kids that want to join: call, email, or stop by the library for more information.

Now for you adults that may start to feel left out at this point, don’t worry. We have something for you as well. During the Adult Summer Reading Program we tried out a variety of activities to see which ones would get the most traction with our adult patrons. Sadly, trivia wasn’t a favorite. But we did learn that adults appreciate the opportunity to interact with area professionals about topics that relate to health and wellness. With that in mind we will be rolling out in September a once a month program where we will touch upon a topic related to health and wellness.

Stew MagnusonAnother thing that we learned about our adult users this summer is their interest in local history. With that in mind we will also focus on making those materials easier to find for our patrons and work on bringing in local and area speakers to talk about historical topics relating to Liberal, Seward County, and Southwest Kansas. Recently we were contacted by author Stew Magnuson who wrote the book “The Last American Highway: A Journey through time down U.S. Route 83: Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma.” He will be at the library on Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:30 pm for an hour long program that uncovers stories found along the road that bisects the United States from North to South.

These are just a few of the things we have on the agenda for the library this fall.

See you at your library.

Programming

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Happy 2011! The New Year at the library always brings a moment of reflecting on what was accomplished the previous year and plans for what we would like to do this year. As always, patron input is welcomed. If you have an idea for a program or service you’d like the library to offer, please visit with one of the staff about it. One recent addition to the library is a big screen television mounted at the front desk which presents a slide-show-type array of activities going on at the library. In case you overlook a flyer hanging in our hallway or a take home slip on the counter, you can now keep informed on what’s happening.

Things that the library does do not always confine themselves to the area within our walls. Children’s is once again doing Snack Attack at the Recreation Center. This educational endeavor is presented twice monthly and teaching is shared with a representative of K-State Research and Extension. Snack Attack is a way to teach healthy eating and fitness strategies with young people in a fun way.

Fourth graders in our district, as well as home school and private school students, will get a chance to learn a bit more about soil this month. Seward County Conservation District has arranged for Miami County’s Soil Tunnel Trailer to come to Liberal. It will spend the day touring in designated locations so that these young people can take part in this learning activity.

A big out-of-the-library event we are preparing for is the 8th annual Children’s Healthy Fun Fair, which will be March 5. Planning meetings are already taking place so that this event can be a big success for families in our city, county, and beyond. Mark your calendar!

Inside our building, our story times continue for little ones on Thursday mornings throughout the month of January. It’s important to start little ones down the road to early literacy. If you know someone with a little one, please have them contact the library for more information. For older children, kindergarten through the fourth grade, don’t forget that their literacy is important too. Have them check out our After School Club, which meets monthly the last Tuesday of each month. No dues or scary initiations. All you need to do is just stop by the Cooper Clark Room and see what book character we are featuring and the fun activities we have to go with it. This month we will meet on January 25 with Judy Moody as our feature.

The library has a wonderful opportunity annually to apply for a early literacy grant from Smart Start of Southwest Kansas. That grant has made it possible for three years to provide some special services to children enrolled in Head Start. Those services include five special field trips to the library during the school year. The trips allow them to become familiar with the library and to share in special story times while they are here.
In December, an additional grant became available from Smart Start for which we qualified. This grant made a certain children’s coordinator giddy with excitement as shipment after shipment arrived. It was just like Christmas! New items so far include a four-piece activity table, early literacy DVDs, early childhood music CDs, books of all kinds, and a wonderful platform glider (which is perfect for story time). Stop in and see our new things. You can even try out the glider!

Hopefully you rang in the New Year on a positive note and plan to try to make your little corner of the world a better place in 2011. We’ll look forward to you brightening our corner when we see you at Memorial Library!