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Thursday, 27 April, 2017


Gettin’ Creative @ Your Library

Tracy Kampa, Children’s Library


I feel the rumblings of a revolution. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. (Shocking coming from me, I know.) But there is, decidedly, a trend that is sweeping through libraries across the U.S. First, however, a few quick thoughts on the changing face of the library:

One could argue that nothing has contributed to an educated populace more than our public library system. Books, and the knowledge contained within, became not just privileges of the wealthy, but rather, were readily accessed by the masses. The idea was revolutionary, and, like every great revolution, resulted in lasting change in our country. (Person who created the first lending library in the U.S.? Yep, Benjamin Franklin, but we’ll leave that column for another time.) As the needs of our communities change, however, libraries change right along with them. Yes, libraries are still primarily purveyors of popular print. (We have thousands of books coming in and going out of this building each week.) But now they are that and more. They are meeting places, and program providers, they are education spaces, and quiet corners, they are play areas, and story time suppliers.  We can even fax your document while accepting your passport application. Libraries, it seems, are able to adapt, quickly, to the continually changing needs of their communities.

It strikes me as a little odd, then, that sometimes new library ideas take off like wildfire. After all, each library serves a unique population, one that is perhaps wildly different than the population served by a library in a neighboring area.  Yet, over the past couple of years, libraries from one end of this country to another have been enamored with a new idea: makerspaces.  A makerspace is exactly what it sounds like: a place to create, to make, to imagine. (You want some idea of how this trend is taking off? Google “makerspaces.” Crazy, isn’t it?)  Some large libraries have the space to have dedicated makerspaces: a room where you might find materials available to create any number of things. Smaller libraries might have a cart available every now and then with maker supplies and (some) direction. On either extreme, the goal is the same: to provide places for humans to create. And the humans are responding.

You will have many occasions to create at your library this summer, and please, keep an eye out for the Children’s Summer schedule which will be available by the end of April. In the meantime, though, you have an immediate opportunity to participate in this crazy creation trend! Our annual Peeps Diorama contest is at hand. The idea is simple: using marshmallow Peeps candy, create a diorama of, well, anything. We’ve seen scenes from books, and Peeps beauty salons, we’ve seen football teams, and Peeps gathered underground for Story Time. The only two things each diorama have in common are candy, and imagination. The contest is open to everybody, and you have an entire week to create your diorama. Perhaps you will win the “Peeple’s Choice” award?  Remember though, all dioramas are due at the library by 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 10th.  Come in and get a sheet of guidelines, and happy creating! And be sure to keep an eye on this makerspace trend. Will it have staying power? Or will it go the way of pole sitting and dance marathons? For now, anyway,  get ready for a summer of creating at your Grand Rapids Area Library.


This Week at Your Library

Monday, April 3: At 9:30 and 10:30 please join us for Book Time! Join ECFE teachers in the story circle for stories, finger plays and songs.  Then move to the community room for a craft, a snack, and time to play and visit.

Thursday, April 6: At 6:00, please join us for “Presentation Basics” with Shane Holm! Whether at work, in school or as a volunteer, just about everyone is called upon to give an occasional presentation.  Learn to stand up in front of an audience and give it your best shot!  Know the purpose of your presentation, who your audience will be, how to prepare and how to deliver. Shane includes special tips for visuals you might use. A great “how to” workshop to make your next public appearance a positive one!

Saturday, April 8: At 10:15 and 11:15, it’s time for Saturday Story Time! Join ECFE teachers in the story circle for stories, rhymes and songs.  Then move to the community room for a snack and a craft.  Open to all ages. No registration required.  Story Time attendees earn one Baby Steps coupon per family per Saturday.

Looking ahead: Your Peeps dioramas are due on Monday, April 10 by 7:00 p.m.!