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Letter: Library summer reading program a success

As the last of the summer reading prizes are claimed and statistics gathered for another year I’m reminded of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Thanks to generous sponsors, dedicated library staff and volunteers, and area educators and families who are committed to promoting literacy, the 2014 summer reading program was a huge success. We truly couldn’t offer the incentives, events and activities we do without the support of businesses and residents in Park Rapids and the surrounding communities

Over 500 area youth, ages 2 -18, registered to participate in this year’s summer reading program, Paws to Read. Some of these young people have lake homes in the area or are visiting family for a few weeks so they participate while they’re here. We’re glad to be a part of their summer tradition – 281, (more than 50 percent) turned in completed reading logs and materials.

Besides encouraging daily reading and offering incentives as goals are reached, our summer reading program includes special events and activities. Our young patrons and the people who spend their days with them were treated to concerts, magic, and comedy. Funding for these programs came from The Friends of the Library, the local library board, and Companeros while Calvary Lutheran Church and Century Elementary School provided space for some of our off site events.

There were also educational programs including the Lake Superior Zoomobile, theme-related programs by local professionals including park naturalist Sandra Lichter and Cindy Morgan, owner of Triple M Assistance Dogs. Cindy and her grandson volunteered their time once a week for the “Kids Read Books with Dogs” program. The Park Rapids Downtown Business Association stepped up as a partner with our library to provide a traveling puppet show, drawing a combined total of 195 people for two performances. Tom Paulson, owner of Moose Creek/Moose Creek Village, invited us to use the space beside his business and was a gracious host.

Volunteers, including Menahga teacher Pam Allebach, helped keep our Friday story times running smoothly by offering their services intermittently. Using educational materials provided by the DNR, an all-star cast of Friends of the Library members, led by Mary Frahm and including Olga Mosner, Dan and Dolores Olson, and Sandy Drury, hosted a story time 70th birthday celebration for Smokey Bear. Complete with stories, games, songs, and cake, the party culminated in a visit from Smokey Bear (Kitchigami Regional Library Board member Jeff Mosner). Dan Olson acted as photographer for those who chose to have a picture taken with Smokey.

I’m so very grateful to all I’ve mentioned and some I’ve perhaps forgotten to mention and to the 27 area businesses and organizations that donated prizes or cash toward prizes for this year’s summer reading program. Thank you for supporting the library in its mission to spread literacy and the love of reading. Thank you for helping raise the next generation of readers. I’m proud to be a part of this village.

Jodi Schultz

Park Rapids Area Library