Off the Shelf: Libraries Rock!

\A seven-year-old girl was walking out of the Children’s Room recently with a load of books in her arms.

“Miss Jan,” she called across the room, “I just want you to know, libraries really DO rock!” I laughed and agreed with her. We have had so much fun this summer with the Summer Reading Program. In preparation, the room was decked out with real instruments and wonderful paintings and mobiles (thanks to LuAnn, Gigi, Diane, Betty and Doug). Bulletin boards, estimation jar, scavenger hunts and signs for events were created (thanks to Amy and Carla). Plus, a small “summer stage” was set up so kids could really rock out (thanks to Jay).

Then came opening day! The Brown County Historical Society and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame partnered with us and hundreds of kids appreciated free tours and popcorn from the popcorn wagon that day. Dick Kimmel was the first official performer on our summer stage. We were off to a terrific start!

Storytime was moved to the basement to accommodate larger groups. The cool space was nice on hot summer days! Kids had a chance to relax and hear stories, participate in action rhymes and join in on repetitive lines of favorite books. We also sang and made sure there was movement. Thanks to all the kids (and caregivers) who came. “I think you’re wonderful.”

Tuesday Talent Shows included violins and violas and a cello, an accordion, a harmonica, guitars, banjos, a trumpet and ukuleles. We heard beautiful voices singing solo and in harmony. We enjoyed a play based on an Elephant and Piggie book. Local Suzuki students, professional performers and first time amateurs made each summer stage stage session unique. Thanks to Nita for hosting and energizing our weekly sessions.

A generous man named Bruce supplied the library with 40 5-gallon plastic drums. They are now brightly decorated with duct tape and a dedicated group of drummers have been creating a rocking beat! Different sounds are made by hitting the center, the rim or the sides. We practiced different rhythm patterns. It is really fun when we all stay in unison! Rock on!

Real rocks also fit into the theme. Rock star Sue brought us a variety of rocks from her cabin and rock star Leah shared her ideas and talents as we painted rocks. More than 50 people came to paint Chinese characters on rocks with TingTing, who told us about the 4000-year progression of calligraphy.

Lego Club was also a hit. There were different challenges each week. They ranged from individuals building an animal in a habitat, to everyone working together to create a community. My personal favorite was the marble mazes. There are Legos at the library all the time, not just during Lego Club. The Duplo table for preschoolers is very popular!

Crafts have been another big attraction. Amy prepared kits for a variety of homemade instruments. Hundreds of kids have created tambourines, guitars, clappers, and kazoos! We also made a community collage!

We have also had five different programs with DNR naturalist Scott Kudelka (with assistance from Ron Bouldan). We welcomed Trisha and Stephen Shaskan (author and illustrator of several picture books). Professional artist, Anjee, guided participants to create their own polymer clay dinosaur. We had a full house, rockin out at the program called “Drum Fun with Junk Funk”.

The final event was Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m. Peter Johnson came with laser beams, vacuums, patterns and sound frequencies! It was a fantastic, hands-on, family involvement program!

Over 900 kids have been to the library this summer. Most of them have come several times. They are reading, building, creating, making music and, hopefully, they have all discovered that “Libraries Rock”!