Keeping the community involved, entertained for the summer

Kolleen Taylor BBPL Director

We know the last days of the school year are the craziest days for parents, children and families, but it also marks some of the craziest days of the year for the library staff. As the children and school employees take a break from the routines of the school year, the library goes into overdrive so these last few weeks drive us into a frenzy as we finalize plans for the summer events: from planning programs, organizing materials and projects, to confirming special guests, and completing checklists for books, programs, staffing and prizes.

We have been behind most of the year as staffing changes always slow us down while we train, re-direct complicated tasks, shift schedules, and still continue our own job responsibilities. There are a lot more details than most people expect….the library is so much more than just checking in and out books and re-shelving. And while the regular routine seems simple, the complexities of computerization, cataloging, and communications seems to keep us forever adjusting.

So as summer is upon us, the responsibilities of keeping the collection up-to-date, the building in good repair, providing quality and interesting programs and covering the costs associated with all this, makes us a bit crazy. Finding time to write grants or even send out letters to ask for community support for the “extras”….things beyond our operational budget, had to shift until we had the details in place. The community has shown it appreciates our efforts to be innovative and creative in our regular programs, in addition to providing special entertainment for our youth over the summer. And our business community has stepped up time and again to allow us to add those extras, helped us purchase special things to entice our youth into making choices that will become habits throughout their lifetime.

When the children get out of school next week, they will be able to immediately sign up for the reading program, check out books, and start working on their reading logs for the Bertha Bartlett Public Library. These logs are designed to teach our youth to experience new authors, new subjects, test their reading abilities, and push themselves in a fun way to keep their skills in place for the coming school year. Our staff designs reading logs for Infants and Preschoolers, K-4th grade students, Tweens and Teens in addition to adults. We offer a Tween book club that is funded through United Way, in addition to a book club for adults both at the library and at Timberland Village.

A lot of our special programs are funded through the Bertha Bartlett Public Library Foundation and with the support of local businesses, we are able to provide incentives to encourage all ages to challenge their reading aptitudes. No matter the age, reading new and different materials feeds the brain, making it healthier for all ages. So we work hard to provide a wide diversity of reading materials for every age.

Sometimes families join our program, but then think that by reading books they have at home they are meeting the requirements of the programs, or they elect to re-read books they have read before. Reading something, anything, is always helpful, but it defeats the purpose of the program: to build their reading skills, to diversify their knowledge and to stretch their brains with new and creative ideas.

So as you enter the library the next time and wonder why the staff might be focusing on computers, reading through details online, and creating odd crafts out of paper towel rolls and coffee cans, be certain this is part of the job we take on to keep the children of our community involved and entertained for the summer ahead. And we hope that everyone will find time to support the programs we offer, by participating personally, donating products, or money that will help keep the children of our city safe all summer.