Libraries build a better world

By Tracy Ihnot


Every May, just as public schools are preparing to close their doors for the summer, public libraries across the nation are gearing up for their biggest program of the year: summer reading. Dating back to the 1890s, summer reading programs have encouraged kids to use libraries and continue reading during summer vacation.

Many library districts, including Delta County Libraries, are part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP). According to the American Library Association's website, "CSLP is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries."

One of the things that CSLP does is decide on an annual theme and provide materials to support and guide libraries in program planning. "We are very excited about this year's theme," says LaDonna Gunn, assistant district director of Delta County Libraries. "It offers so many possibilities for dynamic, engaging and fun programming. Delta County Library staff have put together a schedule of excellent programs for kids, teens and adults to participate in this summer."

Just as libraries offer summer reading for all ages, 2017's theme, "Build a Better World," offers opportunities for communitywide participation. Running for eight weeks, starting the week of June 5, the children and teen programs will meet on a weekly basis for activities, prizes and presentations that support the theme. Projects involving building, designing and creating will be a common thread throughout each program.

Being true to its name, the real goal of summer reading is to bring all of these elements together in a way that encourages and supports lifelong reading. Participants in the children's program are encouraged to track their reading time both in and out of the library. Upon completion of each tracking log, children can choose from a variety of books to take home.

Teens will also be encouraged to track reading and volunteer hours through weekly prize drawings for books, comic books and other items. Participation in the program will also give teens a chance to win the grand prize: a drone.

The adult program, while not following a set schedule countywide, will include two very distinct pieces: local geology walks and the group challenge. In 2016, local geologist Dr. Dave Noe brought widely popular programs to all five libraries to share the results of a countywide geologic mapping project. As a follow-up, Noe will offer three geology hikes throughout Delta County in May, July and August as a unique highlight of the adult program.

The group challenge is a countywide effort to encourage people to "Build a Better World" by making a positive impact in their own community. Participants will form a team of three or more people across all age groups, choose a service project to complete within their community, and then share the results. Library staff will judge the entries and select a team from each community for local recognition as community heroes. Delta County Libraries will nominate one of the five teams for a nationally recognized award.

"Our libraries are already places where people gather for a multitude of reasons," says Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries. "We hope to use that energy, along with the intent of this year's theme, to 'Build a Better World' right here in Delta County."

To learn more about the 2017 summer reading program and to take advantage of the opportunity to make a positive impact in your community through the group challenge, please contact your local library. Registration opens on Friday, May 26, and is available in person and online at www.deltalibraries.org, "Summer Reading."