Kids at your Library:
How Oklahoma Libraries are Good for Kids

 Page 2

Fun and Goosebumps

The most dynamic area in many libraries is the children's section. The physical space might be a basement room, or it might be painted to look like a castle or a rocket ship. Whatever the appearance, librarians work to make the area inviting to kids and their parents. Youth Services librarians, like Brook Jones of Alva Public Library, strive to allow children to create their own world. Ms. Jones uses toys, games, and an inclusive attitude to create a fun place where everyone is welcome.

Today, most libraries offer a wide selection of children's books and magazines. Libraries also lend audio and video cassettes of children's books. Considered as complements to the written word, many tapes come bundled with books so children can follow along. As more books for children become available on tape, some libraries find lending recorded books to be a growing service. At the Choctaw Extension Library, circulation in audio tapes has doubled this past fiscal year because of the popularity of books on tape. The Alva Public Library spent 20% of its children's budget on audio books, including bestsellers and such favorites as the Goosebumps series.

Positive Influences

More and more libraries employ a specialized children's librarian to help administer a variety of programs—ranging from story hours and summer reading programs, to homework help. Historically, librarians serving children and youth have been the vanguard of library progress. Experts consider them the originators of such ideas as library outreach, deposit collections of books, and bookmobile routes for rural areas. Most importantly, these dedicated individuals have proven powerful stimuli in the lives of children, supplying a mixture of attentiveness and encouragement. Like many librarians, Alva's Brook Jones enjoys working around children and takes a genuine interest in their well-being while they're at the library. She believes—and parents seem to agree—that public libraries have a definite positive influence on a child's development.

Extending that positive influence to communities, libraries commonly act as neighborhood centers serving as hosts to various clubs, civic and parent groups. The Edmond Public Library worked this summer with the local 4-H sponsor to offer an aerospace camp, where kids ages 9 to 13 learned about space travel and built model rockets. In Enid, the public library and Sooner State Kennel Club sponsored a seminar to launch September's National Dog Week with the aim of educating children about what they can do with and for their dogs. A Tulsa library branch played host to the city's Snake Club.

Kids Gathering Evidence with Charlie Blair, Director of Criminal Studies at Northern Oklahoma College


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