Libraries offer surprises for the recession weary

by Alicia Rudnicki, Library Mix

Public libraries, how do I love thee? Let me count yet another way: You are always surprising me and doing it for free. The activities and resources you offer are tonic for my recession weariness.

Two weekends ago, I visited my local library with a friend who is in the first grade. I was planning to do some research. Nick was tagging along to play on the computers in the children’s room.

International investigation
I had forgotten that it was National Library Week, the theme of which was “world’s connect at your library.” (Even library examiners have other demands on their time!)

As we passed the checkout desk, our eyes were drawn to a picture display of people from many lands dressed in their native costumes. It was part of a guessing game, and there were prizes just for participating.

Nick and I didn’t earn 100% on our quizzes, which asked us to match the pictures to various nationalities. But he “won” a nifty pen that transformed into a spaceship while I chose a riveting book about reptiles as my prize.

What we also won was 15 minutes of great fun and a useful literacy experience for Nick, who enjoyed taking the test.

Meeting authors in person
The next day, we attended the annual Authors’ Open House at Englewood Public Library. Knowing that Metro State associate art professor Patrick Loehr would be there, I read his quirky Mucumber McGee picture books to Nick before we went.

What a wonderful treat it is for a child to be able to meet an author whose books he has enjoyed. What a wonderful surprise it was for me that Nick independently initiated a conversation with Loehr.

As I fluttered from children’s writer to mystery novelist to cookbook author, my husband and Nick flitted from table to table, finally landing for an extended stay with paleontologist Kirk Johnson, who wrote Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway.

When our trajectories crossed, I was surprised to hear Nick announce that he wanted to get back to our house immediately to dig for dinosaur bones in the backyard. He really wanted to dig into the topic.

Summer surprises await
Summer will soon be here, as will special reading programs for children, teens, and adults. Is this the summer that you or your child will read a record number of books? Who knows what prizes you may win.

Will your family picnic on the lawn at the library while listening to a concert? Or will you get together with friends and go to movies for free at the library?

Will you learn how to knit at the library or how to garden? Perhaps you will meet someone special at a singles event.

Libraries provide all these kind of activities and opportunities. Just check online with your local library system to see what events they have lined up for May and beyond.

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