Oceans

Who needs a summer beach trip?’Oceans of Possibilities’ opening at local libraries | Features

While swimming pools are opening, and Vacation Bible Schools are starting up, there’s another place that you have to put on the family’s summer fun list: the Jefferson Library.

Think the library is a quiet place? Well, hold on to your bookbags, because the “Oceans of Possibilities” program in the Piedmont Regional Library system is the only place where you and the kids can have loads of fun for free, with activities ranging from “Read to a Pup” to “Laser Tag” to a live “Reptile Show”. Plus, you can join the Summer Reading program that might just win your family a year’s pass to the Georgia Aquarium.

And it’s just not for big kids—as there is a “Bouncing Babies” program for kids and parents ages 2 and under—which uses rhymes and songs, according to program manager Kelli McDaniel, “… to encourage early literacy skills for our smallest patrons . ””

McDaniel, a 17-year library veteran with a master’s degree in library science, is the assistant director of the Piedmont Regional Library system.

“The most exciting part of this program is getting to meet all the children and families that come into our libraries during this time,” said McDaniel. “We refer to summer as our’Christmas Season’ in the library world,” she continued. “As we start in late May and go right up until school starts.”

The Jefferson Library, with 12,700 books, magazines and videos, had more than 4,300 visitors in the month of March. Nearly 500 Jefferson-area kids took advantage of the library’s many programs during March, which is the most recent data published by the library.

McDaniel, a Jefferson native whose undergraduate degree is from the University of Georgia, admitted that program days “… can be busy, hectic and loud, but to me a bustling library is a library that is alive.”

The “Read to a Pup” program partners with a local therapy dog ​​owner who brings their trained dogs who sit “calmly” while children read to him.

“This helps to ease the pressure children who sometimes struggle to read aloud may feel, and give them a calm, loving audience for their reading practice” said McDaniel.

And if these special programs don’t interest you (and who wouldn’t want to watch their child read to a therapy dog) there’s “Beanstack,” which McDaniel unabashedly plugs as a “supercool reading tracking platform!”

Beanstack creates reading challenges for readers of all ages and allows them to track their reading and earn (virtual) badges and compete against their friends.

McDaniel, a mother of three who formerly managed local libraries in Nicholson and Winder, said a career in libraries started early.

“The day I graduated from high school, I applied at the library for summer work,” she said. “I did two years of pre-med at UGA before realizing that working at the library [had] changed my life. ”

McDaniel was quick to give credit to her library colleagues on the front lines, especially Jefferson Library manager Marena Bleech and children’s librarian Kasey Atkins.

“They deserve all the credit for putting together this particular calendar of events,” she added.

One part of the summer program is the Reptile Guys show, which includes everything from snakes to lizards to tortoises. ”

“It’s interactive, and after the program the kids get a chance to touch the reptiles,” she continued.

One of the libraries most popular programs is its library on wheels, better known as PuRL (or Pop Up Rolling Library), which, if you are in the Commerce area, you might just see this summer as PuRL goes on a promotional tour of Banks County.

Volunteers play a critical role in the health of the Jefferson library and the other nine libraries in the Piedmont system, which serves Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties.

“Some of these programs are enormous,” McDaniel said. “For example, the largest program I can remember was a petting zoo we ran in Winder and there were a thousand people there,” she laughed. and we needed help with crowd control. ”

“We love our patrons and our volunteers,” she said. “Libraries are people-based—it’s no good if there are no people. You have to focus on connecting the library to the community.”

The Jefferson library is located at 990 Washington Street in Jefferson. You can check out the schedule for all the summer fun at www.prlib.org.

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