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Photo submitted Paonia teen librarian Karen Howe congratulates the winner of Delta County Libraries’ teen summer reading program, Faith Frazier.
Photo submitted (From left) Carol Huff, Gigi Deegan and Mildred Kinser show off some of the bags they completed in Delta County Libraries’ group challenge as The Sew & Sews. Not pictured is the fourth member of the group, Shirley Cotton.

Libraries build a better world

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Once again, Delta County residents have proven that they value libraries, reading, and their own communities. Delta County Libraries 2017 summer reading program has ended, but staff will not quickly forget the last two months of generosity, widespread participation, valuable feedback and lots of excitement.

This year's theme of "Build a Better World" was quickly adopted by the numerous sponsors who gave money to support the program, starting in March. "We ask for donations for our summer program from local businesses every year. This program simply would not happen without that generosity," explains assistant district director LaDonna Gunn. "Money pays for books, prizes, performers and supplies in all five libraries. In addition, we always receive a nice variety of donated services from community members."

The summer flew by with programming emphasizing the "Build a Better World" theme in many ways. Events touched on such concepts as alternative energy, music, building and architecture, and community involvement. The group challenge was one of the most powerful reflections of the theme, as library staff challenged the public to find ways to better their communities. Staff selected the winning project, led by Carol Huff, a Crawford resident, who gathered three friends, Shirley Cotton, Gigi Deegan and Mildred Kinser, to form the group The Sew & Sews. Together, these women sewed cloth bags for the Crawford Fire Auxiliary to fill with supplies for people in emergency situations.

Huff says she has not been a part of the summer reading program since her children were young, and when she found out about the adult component, she decided to get involved. Making the bags was a good project, because she had already done similar work through her church. She makes it clear that her work will not conclude with the end of summer reading. "As a matter of fact, there's another project," she says, describing larger drawstring bags that she and others intend to make to hold the belongings of children and adults who have to be taken out of unsafe environments.

Another summer reading program highlight was a districtwide prize drawing for teen participants. The grand prize was a drone, and all teens who came to an event or read books for the program were eligible to win. Faith Frazier, from Paonia was the lucky winner. "I'm really happy for Faith," says Paonia teen librarian Karen Howe. "She participated right up until the last minute. It is nice to see her hard work rewarded." Prize drawings also took place for adult summer reading program participants in each library, with some very satisfied winners.

While these are a few examples of excellent summer reading participation, in truth it took hundreds of people to make the program such a success -- the parents who brought their children to weekly events, the performers and volunteers who provided extraordinary entertainment, the readers who tracked their participation, the staff who planned and coordinated the two-month effort, and all the businesses and individuals who donated to the program. Staff hopes that the energy and support created by the "Build a Better World" program will carry Delta County throughout the year, and that everyone will continue to contribute to making the libraries strong, successful, and valuable assets to the community.

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