Between 1992 and 2014, the number of programs offered to patrons by Delta County Libraries increased almost 10 times. Libraries have added numerous opportunities for patrons of different ages over the years, but one program has been around the entire time, scheduled almost without fail every week in every library, catering to the youngest of library patrons. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are welcome at library story times, where they can listen to stories, sing songs and participate in crafts, and where both children and parents can enjoy time with their peers.
Bringing children to story times at a young age has many benefits and rewards. Through reading, singing and crafts, children gain an early appreciation for word sounds and associations, learn creative play, strengthen muscles used for writing, and come to view libraries as safe, fun environments. New parents meet other parents and find companions for their children. And librarians enjoy regular opportunities to interact with the children of the community.
Children's librarian Terry Johns, who has been reading stories to kids at the Hotchkiss Library for over 20 years, looks forward to each week's program. "After doing story time programs for many years at the Hotchkiss Library, I still enjoy looking into the faces of the children as they eagerly listen to stories, sing songs, play with flannel board figures and interact with each other. It's always exciting to see their enthusiasm, and we hope to be building a connection with them as they continue on in years. I know for me personally, it is so fun to have a high school student come in the library and say, 'I remember when I used to come to story time!' "
Over and over, librarians discover that patrons who come to story times as children return as they grow older, and many bring their own children to story times years later. One Delta County Library patron, Mary Groome, describes how she came to appreciate libraries as a young child and has returned with family members over the years. She explains, "As children, my sisters and I loved going to story time at Paonia Public Library. As an adult, I have loved taking my niece and nephew to story time at Hotchkiss. I can't wait to make memories for my own family at story time when my baby is old enough!"
Delta County Libraries provides equal program opportunities for all users, regardless of economic status, race, background or education. Story times are free of charge, which makes it easy for a parent to bring one child or many, and anyone can attend in the most convenient location, with Paonia Library story times on Tuesdays, Hotchkiss and Delta on Wednesdays, and Cedaredge and Crawford on Thursdays. Countywide, story times begin at 10:30 a.m. Children are welcome to arrive at story times with their easiest mode of locomotion: crawling, scooting, riding, dancing, staggering and occasionally walking.