Summer is always a busy time at libraries and 2017 was no different. Libraries in Allegheny County provided numerous opportunities for children to explore the world, ignite imaginations and discover everything that the library has to offer.
This summer 41,921 children registered for the summer reading program countywide. Libraries hosted more than 6,000 programs ranging from storytimes and STEM learning experiences to magic shows and nature explorations. There were nearly 160,000 children in attendance at a wide range of programs such as:
- C.C. Mellor Memorial Library hosted Spectacular Summer Science, a weekly class for early elementary students (5-8 years old). Every week focused on a new STEM topic (such as light or surface tension), and included several activities on the theme.
- Western Allegheny Community Library hosted a program with a local beekeeper who spoke about the importance of bees to the ecosystem. The beekeeper then answered questions and helped children make actual beehives following the discussion.
Every library reflects its own unique community and youth services staff work tirelessly to create activities that fit the needs of that community. For example, Wilkinsburg Public Library collaborated with the revived Parks and Recreation Department and the Wilkinsburg Youth Project. Through these two connections, staff was able to raise awareness of the Library and its resources to kids and families who typically do not visit. Getting out of the library, into the neighborhood, and familiarizing themselves with the community was rewarding for staff. That also led to an increase in youth coming into the library as they now recognize it as a welcoming place to enjoy.
The Allegheny County Library Association collaborated with a number of organizations to provide programming and reading incentives to libraries. These partnerships included Pittsburgh Pirates (Pirate Tales), Pittsburgh Riverhounds (reading program), YMCA (Y on the Fly programming) and Allegheny County Parks (programming).
A committee of youth services librarians is already planning for next summer and a January training for staff. With the focus of summer programming shifting more and more from reading to learning, librarians are adapting to these shifts as well as changing needs of communities.