GLADSTONE – Gladstone Public Library celebrated the start of its summer reading program, themed “Oceans of Possibilities” Wednesday, June 8, with their first annual book walk. Program participants were guided station by station through the children’s book “From the Depths in the Deep Blue Sea” by Jan Peck, each outdoor station containing a page of history. This was the library’s first in-person summer reading event since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID things had to change, so this is kind of the first time we’ve brought back a non-virtual program,” Lori Wells, director of the Gladstone Public Library, said. “We didn’t really know how things were going to go, but now we’re really excited for this summer.”
The book walk began right outside the front door of the library, with students following the path of book page stations until they reached the James T. Jones Elementary School playground. When moving from station to station, participants had to complete a small activity before they could continue.
“One sign would say ‘Crab walk to next sign’ and another would say ‘Go to next sign'”, Kari Fassbender, media assistant at Gladstone Public Library, said. “There was something interactive at each panel for the kids.”
Once they reached the finish line of the book walk, the children were greeted with goody bags and snacks. In keeping with the theme of the summer program, students also received chalk to illustrate their favorite sea creatures on the sidewalk. The book walk was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation.
“A lot of material had to be purchased for the book walk to take place, so this was made possible by the Community Foundation,” says Wells. “They helped us buy large sign frames, several books, a canopy and chairs. All the materials we needed were provided by them.
While the official registration date was June 8, local youth can register for the Summer Reading Program throughout the summer months. The program currently has 157 registered participants and is expected to last eight weeks, ending August 3. For each book read, participants will receive a ticket. These tickets can then be placed in several different bags with the corresponding prizes.
“For our summer reading program every year, we buy a lot of prizes,” says Wells. “Many local businesses also donated certificates or money to help provide prizes. If it wasn’t for the community reaching out and giving us these gifts, our program wouldn’t be able to continue.
The reading program accommodates two distinct age groups, a youth group and a young adult group. The youth group includes children ages 2 through 5, while the young adult group is for students in grades 6 through 12. Each group has different prize selections to choose from, with the prize draw taking place on August 3. The library plans to organize another book walk to conclude the summer reading program as well.
“People don’t need to come to the reading program to get involved,” says Wells. “They can come to the library anytime and check out books, materials and get their tickets.”
Other events that will be held at the library this summer will be orchestrated by the Friends of the Library. Their next event is a card/game night, which is scheduled for Thursday, June 23. This fundraising event is suitable for adults and includes a variety of different games to play. The event will include a raffle for gift baskets and books, as well as a dessert to share. It will take place at 1 p.m. at Gladstone First Lutheran Church.
In addition to its summer reading program, Gladstone Public Library offers a number of services that the local community can take advantage of. In addition to books and audiobooks, the library now offers fishing rod and tackle box rentals. The library also offers several online resources.
“We offer a lot of services that I don’t think people realize we offer,” says Wells. “We have entire collections of downloadable magazines, downloadable books, and ebooks for people to read or listen to.”
In addition, the library received a grant that enabled it to develop a Chromebook and hotspot rental service. This will allow library patrons to have Internet access via Chromebook wherever they go, allowing them to tackle homework or business when and where it’s most convenient for them. Although not yet available, this service has been in the works at the library for some time.
“This is brand new to us and we have never checked a high priced item like this before,” says Wells. “We just finished setting up the software, but people will be able to take these Chromebooks home and use them.”
The Gladstone Public Library is open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The library is also offering free at-home COVID-19 self-test kits. In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, residents are allowed one testing kit per household member per day, a maximum of five kits per day. A library card is not required to receive a test kit.