“I didn’t know you had …” is something that Pam Miech hears every week. The speaker might be talking to the head children’s librarian for Warwick about the boat in the library’s children’s room, or the game night, or the Tech Lab that people can use to transfer VHS tapes to Digital. They might be talking about the 19-year-old tarantula named “Beezus,” after the Beverly Cleary character. They might just be parents bringing their own children to the library to check on the spider that delighted them as children and discovering something new.
Libraries across the state will be hosting summer events for children, teens and adults. Many of the Rhode Island libraries will host their summer events around the common theme of “Find Your Voice” but each participating system will add its own unique interpretation on that theme.
Liz Gotauco, the librarian in charge of Cumberland’s youth services, inspires kids to participate in creative arts and also to find their voice through activism. Kids are encouraged to write to Mayor Jeffrey Mutter of Cumberland. Each week he will answer a letter submitted by a young patron of the library.
Cumberland is bookending its summer programs with two large events. Monday, June 26 will be the Kickoff Carnival for the summer reading program and Thursday, August 10 will be a concluding concert by renowned children’s musician Bill Harley.
In between those events, Cumberland plans a full slate of activities for all ages. Workshops will be held to help people build confidence and learn storytelling skills. Kids can participate in the summer reading program, teens can take babysitting classes and go to D&D “camp” (a summer-long series of games). Adults can attend culinary programs or join the “spice club.” Book clubs for Stephen King fans will also be held, among others.
Warwick Public Library’s (WPL) outreach efforts are helped by their “pop-up” library van. Miech explained that the van will appear at events throughout the community with a limited selection of books that borrowers can check out, the ability to issue library cards to new patrons and “swag” to promote literacy awareness. You can catch the van at the weekly Farmers Market on Fridays in Goddard Park and during special events such as Gaspee Days. Local non-profits may also contact the library to request the van’s appearance at their events as well (staff and schedule permitting).
Warwick’s events will not only be held at their main location but storytimes and crafts will also be hosted at the branch locations and each branch will hold one “big show” over the summer. Some events, such as preschool storytime, are year round, other programs are targeted for kids on vacation. “Kids’ Fun Friday” targets ages 9 – 11, “Battle Game Nights’ ‘involves the whole family in kids-vs-adults competition. Summer reading programs will encourage kids to prevent the summer slide by logging reading and getting rewarded for their efforts. Teens who have completed grades 7 – 12 are volunteering at the library to help administer the reading program and distribute the prizes.
Most library events are open to all and are free. “If there is room, come on in,” says Warwick’s Meich. Cumberland’s Gotauco echoes that sentiment, saying that everything, “Is free and you don’t need a [library] card to participate.” But policies vary and exceptions happen so potential visitors are encouraged to view the details of events on the website of the library they plan to attend. WPL has been operating post-COVID for some time and all this summer’s programs are in-person with no virtual options. Each library system will operate according to its own protocol, so patrons are encouraged to review policies before attending.
What is the connection to libraries for summer magic shows, spice clubs, animal presentations, and family hula hooping activities? “Education,” answers Warwick’s Meich. “You learn about animals. You learn about social-emotional growth from a magic show, you learn from being together.”
Events can be found on your local library’s website, or you can check out the consolidated calendar from the Rhode Island Library Services web page: olis-ri.libcal.com/calendar/rilibrary