216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


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Friday, June 3, 2011

Kids ask good questions

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I’ve been speaking to elementary school classes from Litchfield for the past few weeks, telling them about our summer reading program and about the library in general. Our children’s librarian, Jan Pease, usually leads these presentations but has been out on medical leave, as she wrote in last week’s column. While I have really missed having her here taking care of children’s programming, it has actually been a good opportunity for me to introduce myself to kids in Litchfield. Since then, they’ve been saying hello to me like I’m a familiar person when they come into the library, which is fun for me. It’s also been fun to hear the questions they come up with when I ask them what they want to know about the library and about summer reading. I’ll share some of those questions and answers with you.

One of the basic questions is “How do you get a library card?” The answer for a child is that they need to bring in a parent or guardian, who can fill out the application for them. We need to have the parent with them in the library when they apply, because there are responsibilities that come with a card. The card is free. If they’ve had a card before and lost it, there is a $3 fee to get a replacement card.

I’ll give you the answer for an adult while we’re at it: bring in a photo ID and something that shows your current address. This can be accomplished with one document if you have a current driver’s license. Then you can fill out an application and get your free card.

One of the questions we asked the kids is “How many books do you think we have here in the library?” Their answers ranged from 300 to infinity. It’s somewhere in between. According to our 2010 annual report, we have 46,513. We also have 1306 audios (books and music) and 2255 videos. These numbers are always changing, of course, and we’ll firm those up a bit when we do inventory later this year.

The kids asked me, “How many people come in the library every day?” That’s a good question. We count everyone who comes in the door for a week, twice a year. Based on those statistics, we have about 77,584 visits to the Litchfield Library in a year. That comes out to roughly 249 visitors a day. Yes, it’s a busy place.

One of the kids asked if they need to come to meetings to be in the summer reading program. The answer is no, you just sign up at the library, pick up your sheet for keeping track of time spent reading, and bring it back in for a prize when it’s complete. I also told them to be sure to pick up a new sheet once they’ve finished one, because we don’t want them to read for only two weeks in June; we want them to read all summer long. Kids can lose a month of reading progress in school for every month of summer vacation if they don’t keep reading. We want them to keep it up so that they’re ready to go in September when school starts again.

Even though kids don’t need to come to any programming for the summer reading program, we do have a kick-off party happening on Thursday, June 9th, from 6-8 p.m. Kids can sign up for the summer reading program, make crafts, and listen to musician Dennis Warner at 6:30. Elementary school students can also come to Fun with 4-H, to Summer Vacation Book Club (for 3rd through 5th grade), and to family story hour on Thursday evenings. There will be a couple of other fun events for kids coming up this summer, as well.

Some children wondered how we got all of the books in order on the shelves. Their teachers and I told them that the library has moved a few times since the first Litchfield Library was built in 1904, and that it all was set up in this building around ten years ago. But we’re always working to put the books in order on the shelf when they’re returned or when new ones come in: fiction in alphabetical order by author’s last name, non-fiction in Dewey Decimal order.

I was also asked, “What’s the oldest book in the library?” (I’m not sure!), “What’s the newest?” (there’s something new every week), “How many books can you check out at a time?” (the computer will stop you at 99, but you should limit yourself to what you can keep track of), and “Is this your job?” I am so privileged that this is my job. There’s always so much to do, but it’s a beautiful and fulfilling place to work, and it’s great to make connections with kids and help them understand that the library is for them. I told them that if they ever need help, they should ask a librarian and we’ll help them find what they’re looking for in the library.