By Scott Schmidt
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Libraries are an obvious important aspect of a child’s school year, but when the summer rolls around, the real bustle begins.
The Susan Andersen Library in Bow Island had a very busy summer, with dozens of kids spending their days involved in the various fun and games.
“Summer is usually pretty busy for us at the library, because we run kids programming from early July to mid August,” says library manager Kathryn Van Dorp. “We have anywhere from 30, 40, 50 kids on any given day.”
Kids programming began July 3 this year, running through to Aug. 17. Roughly 80 local children between the ages of 6 and 13 registered. The library decided to introduce an age split this year (6-9 and 10-13) to offer better fits for each child, with activities from crafts and movie matinees, to outdoor activities, scavenger hunts and trivia.
They even had the Plinko this year — a fan-favourite from the Price is Right — which allowed kids to play for various prizes. And a reading contest was available for the teens, where each chapter book read allowed them an entry toward a gift basket, comprised of items donated by the community.
This year’s summer programming theme was Around the World, with each activity and learning opportunity based upon a different country from around the globe. Everything was free, thanks to sponsorship from Capital Power, ensuring there were no barriers preventing certain children from participating.
“We really try to keep our programming free,” Van Dorp says. “That’s why funding is so important to us, from the municipality level and provincial level. But we always try to meet the requirements of that, regardless of the funding.”
Funding and support helps the library provide access to all it has to offer, which these days involves so much more than just reading books.
“We’re promoting reading, but we’re also just trying to promote using the library as a whole.”
And while the busy summer had the place hopping with activity, the Susan Andersen library has been working on a new addition as well. Crews have been busy working on a new solarium space — a project long wished for by the very person the facility is now named for.
“We’re quite excited about it because, of course, it’s memory of Susan Andersen, our longtime library manager,” Van Dorp says. “So this is a memorial toward Susan — it was a dream she’d always had … to have daylight in the library.
“The concrete foundation has been laid and we’re just waiting on the solarium company to come and install the solarium, so it moving ahead. I’m hoping to see it done about, let’s say, mid October. That’s what I’m hoping.”
Van Dorp says the addition will be great for the community, as the space should allow for even more programming, as well as provide the perfect venue for meetings, get-togethers and good old-fashioned relaxation.
As the summer winds down, and kids head back school, the day-to-day activity at the library slows only just a little, and there is still plenty to look forward to in the coming months. On top of always planning for future programming at the facility, staff will also be working closely with the Early Childhood Coalition doing programming for younger children (begins in October). Southeastern Alberta’s own Painter Girl will be on hand for a paint night in September, which is already nearly sold out, as well as an adult craft evening in October and so much more.
The goal of Van Dorp and the rest of the staff is to provide a hub of activity and gathering for the entire community, and she wants everyone to know they are always welcome to come down and check out what the Susan Andersen Library has to offer.