Jefferson Middle School students Kalea Sciaccoeta and Thu Hoang spend their days behind a bright yellow, butcherpapered table at the Olympia Timberland Regional Library, greeting families, handing out scavenger hunts and signing up kids for the summer reading program.
“I like working with little kids and just letting them know that there is a place out there like the library where they can feel safe. … I just like being able to sign kids up for reading and interacting with them” Sciaccoeta said.
Hoang and Sciaccoeta, along with the 34 other teen volunteers at the Olympia library, find themselves in the right place and the right time this summer as Timberland branches gear up for a summer orbiting around science-based themes that promote STEAM, an acronym that represents the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Timberland’s youth services coordinator, Ellen Duffy, thinks this is one of the best themes the summer reading program has had.
“We can get kids excited not only about books and reading but hands-on doing” Duffy said.
The children’s theme is “Fizz! Boom! READ” while teens will partake in the “Spark a Reaction” theme. According to Duffy, the program adheres to the unwritten rules of the “coolness factor” allowing fifth- and sixth-graders to select individually if they would rather be a part of the children or teen program.
Some of the events this summer include labARTory, in which children have the option of conducting science experiments or making arts and crafts at designated tables in the library, a science scavenger hunt throughout the library every Wednesday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and a book trailer contest for aspiring filmmakers to create a trailer based on a book of their choosing. For a list of events, go to www.trl.org .
Duffy is hopeful for another booming summer. The 2013 summer reading program reported 55,000 participants throughout the 27 Timberland libraries. Of those participants, 1,524 were from Olympia, 1,699 were from Tumwater and 2,719 were from Lacey. These numbers have not gone unnoticed in the community.
“We do have local sponsors that support the kids’ reading and they show their support by offering coupons and other goodies” Olympia librarian Mary Rulewicz said.
Duffy has booked eight performers to rotate through the 27 libraries. Of those eight, seven are scheduled to appear in at least one of the Thurston County libraries. The performers include a ukuleleist, a magician and a juggler.
“Summer at the library is active learning and it’s not meant to be quiet” Duffy said.
As Timberland gears up for another exciting summer, librarians and volunteers note that the program’s success is measured in the relationships developed between the library and its young people.
“More than anything, the summer reading program is to get the kids to come into the library, interact with the librarians and check out armloads of books” Rulewicz said.