It’s here! It’s the one weekend of the year where Story City turns into one big Story! Everyone knows I love this festival, and so of course I have to remind everyone what we are doing this year to help the Greater Chamber Connection with their activities.

Stories are what libraries are all about! We have written stories, we have oral stories on cassettes and cd’s, we have historical accounts and we have biographies. We have special programs every week for various ages, linking stories from books to reading aloud. From wall to wall, the library is filled with stories! Why wouldn’t we champion a cause that encourages more stories?

Everyone has a story and everyone tells stories. From stories about the weekend we just enjoyed, or the stunts the dog did for the neighbors, our days are full of stories. When we go to meetings and the minutes summarize the last activity of the group, another story that is being shared. So what is so special about a storytelling weekend?

"It’s all in the way you tell them!" This is a punch line for a joke you can find on the internet, but it is also the key to what makes quality storytelling worth paying for! If you have ever sat in a church service, noting how many are dozing off during the sermon, you know the value of a minister who practices his skill. If you have ever been in a classroom where the teacher who brings history alive with well researched stories, you probably could recall the information easily for a test later.

The art of storytelling is just that….it is planned, practiced, and performed with the audience in mind. And those with the greatest skills can sometimes make their living doing this. Paul Harvey entertained me with his wide array of real stories on the radio for years with his radio segments "The Rest of the Story", in addition to the devoted fans of Garrison Keillor who concocts some tales not easy to repeat, but fun in listening.

So Story City is in for another great weekend of excitement, setting the stage with those who have developed their skills. We will meet new tellers this year, mixed with some old favorites. We kick off the events with a special performance on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. at the library with the Eulenspiegel Puppets re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, using a set that is basically a large pop-up storybook designed and created by teller Monica Leo.

The library will be the center stage for one of our personal favorite Iowa celebrities as we welcome back Dan Wardell on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. who will be here in the Kinne wing to enhance the Story! Festival weekend. Young and old alike love Iowa Public Televisions’ host of the Saturday Kid’s Clubhouse television show, and Dan has become one of the greatest supporters of Iowa libraries. Later in the day the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre will hold a puppetry workshop "Puppetry in the Classroom or Library", which draws on 35 years of working in schools. This program will begin at 1 p.m. in the Library meeting room and costs $15 to attend.

With the Wednesday afternoon early dismissal, we remind our K-12th graders there are several programs here at the library to enjoy. From 2:30 to 3:30 pm two groups will be meeting: Miss Julia will be teaching the K-4th crowd how to make puppets using everything from socks to spoons. At the same time, Shelly will be working with the tweens in the Kinne Wing engaging them in a Mystery Maze Challenge for the 5th through 7th graders. And at 3:30, Denise will present Book Talks for 8th – 12th grade teens on the new YA materials, and help them design a Worry Stone to alleviate stress during the school year.

Next week we will enjoy our book discussion on Tuesday, September 24 at 2 p.m. with the Bartlett Book Club discussing The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obrecht, and our own Memory Makers Storytelling Guild will meet on Thursday, September 26 at 5 pm, with all inspired by all the Story!Festival weekend events invited to join us!