By Olivia Buck
One of my favorite things about working at a public library is that we do so much more than just books; we also offer so many amazing programs to our patrons! I love hearing about the creative ways that libraries are engaging with our communities. Reading about the cool programs that my other library friends are working on at their own libraries always brings a smile to my face. As 2019 draws to an end, I thought it might be a good chance to list some of the exciting programs that Bloomington Public Library has offered this year.
● Tales for Tails
Trained and certified therapy dogs are paired with children grades K-5 who want to practice reading aloud. The dogs are accompanied by their handlers at all times while enjoying the attention and listening to kids read to them.
● Booo-kmobile and Halloween Parade
Kids of all ages braved the cold and snow this Halloween during our annual Halloween Parade and Story Time. The parade took kids around the library and ended with a special Halloween Story Time in our Community Room. Crafts were available for kids to make in the Children’s Department. Kids journeyed outside and onto our Bookmobile which was decorated for Halloween including spooky music, spiders, bats, and cobwebs. On the Booo-kmobile kids met library staff (myself included) dressed up as the Three Little Pigs and played games like pin the tail on the Big Bad Wolf and a Halloween-themed I Spy.
● Beginner Spanish Language Classes
Patrons age 7 and up that were interested in learning Spanish joined us for free introductory Spanish classes taught by the Modern Language Culture Institute. Each class covered two topics and included hands-on activities. Topics included: Greetings, the alphabet/months/days, family members, and body parts.
● Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code is a nationwide, nonprofit organization which aims to increase the number of women in computer science related fields. The organization promotes safe, fun environments to build computer programming skills and confidence. In a series of nine sessions, teens learned fundamental concepts of loops, variables, conditionals, and functions that form the basics of all computer programming languages. Participants grades 6 – 12 learned to work as a team.
● Spy vs. Spy
Bloomington Public Library and Normal Public Library teamed up to bring a fun program to teens in our area. Teens learned the basics of cryptography and code breaking while working with team members and competing against other teams to find clues, defeat a laser maze, and win prizes.
● Sparkling Grape Juice and a Masterpiece (for Teens)
In this highly popular program, teens attended a two-hour paint class in which an instructor creates a painting while the participants follow along to create similar paintings. As they painted, teens enjoyed light refreshments. All participants walked away with their own unique masterpiece.
● Dance the Nights Away
In this series of four events, dance instructors from a local studio offered free dance lessons in four different styles. Patrons have enjoyed dancing the waltz and salsa as well as learning the fox trot and how to swing dance.
● Bloomington Reads
In an annual programming series starting in March and ending during National Library Week, Bloomington Public Library held a community reading event for the spotlight title Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. Events included a short story writing workshop, a self portrait collage program led by a mixed-media artist, and an introduction to graphic novel design. As a part of this series, we partnered with Next to Normal Story Slam on a program where local storytellers shared their personal stories around the theme “The Real You: Who Does the World See and Who is the Real You?” The programming series ended with an author visit. Thompson-Spires, a professor at the University of Illinois, visited Bloomington Public Library to share about her short story collection, including a Q & A session and book signing.
● How-To Festival
At this event, patrons had the opportunity to learn a variety of skills and crafts by stopping at stations set up throughout the library. A mixture of volunteers and library staff provided a range of topics for all ages. A firefighter taught hands-only CPR, the Music Shoppe taught how to play classical guitar and the ukulele, a volunteer taught kitchen knife skills, the Ecology Action Center taught how to recycle and compost, and I personally taught attendees how to create black out poetry and how to write short stories.
● Murder Mystery Party
In celebration of Halloween, registered participants gathered together in our Community Room in order to figure out who committed murder! When registering, patrons answered a questionnaire that asked questions like which gender (if any) character they would be interested in playing, as well as questions to help match them up with a role they would be interested in. An email with each participant’s role was sent out about two weeks ahead of time to give people time to think about their role and get excited about the program. Participants were encouraged to wear costumes to inspire them for their role throughout the party.
● Local Author Fair
Over twenty authors from McLean County were stationed throughout the library in celebration of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Patrons could stop by to speak with them about their books and the craft of writing. Authors presented various genres of books at the fair and were able to provide tips about the publishing process.