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Colfax Public Library’s new children’s librarian specializes in fun ideas

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  When was the last time you went to a tea party?

Or decorated gingerbread cookies?

Or made a mouse craft?

For Jolene Albricht, the Colfax Public Library’s new Youth Services Librarian, it’s only been a few weeks — just before Christmas, in fact.

The Teddy Bear Tea during Story Time one Wednesday in December was a distinct success.

“I brought my old tea set that I got when I was ten years old. (The children) were so respectful of it. I set the table with flowers and little sandwiches and cookies, and we all brought a teddy bear.  And we made real tea — peppermint tea. One little boy just loved the tea,” Albricht said.

“Then we did a craft day for Christmas time and made a Christmas ornament. We decorated gingerbread cookies, too. They ate more frosting, I think, than they put on their cookies. And we did cats and mice. They had pet cats, and I have a pet cat. We made a mouse craft,” she said.

Albricht, who is a Colfax native, owned and operated Colfax Video in downtown Colfax for 20 years.

“A lot of the people who come into the library are people who used to rent movies, and now they’re coming in with their kids to get books. It’s really fun to work with the little kids. I do this at church, too. You want to provide an educational experience and a learning experience so they associate a good feeling with books,” Albricht said.

Story Time is every Wednesday morning during the school year at 10 a.m. for two, three and four-year-olds.

Themes of fun

Each Story Time is devoted to a particular theme.

“We always have a theme. We read a couple of books. We might learn a song or do a finger play or some kind of interaction with the story. And then we have a craft time and a snack time, and then they play,” Albricht explained.

Some of the themes coming up for Story Time include zoo animals, winter and snow, birds, the farm and farm animals, dinosaurs, pirates, and penguins — and “Let’s Take a Vacation.”

“Anything that will pique the children’s interests,” Albricht said, noting that the vacation theme “is so we don’t have to think about winter.”

“The children’s librarian before me got a lot of educational toys. So we’ve got new puzzles, dress-up costumes, and some building blocks and little dishes and play food and some other educational things — and a new rug where the kids can play,” she said.

The new plush rug has bright, bold colors that every youngster will find inviting.

“Instead of moms bringing their kids, now we are noticing a lot of grandmothers bringing their grandchildren to Story Time — and then they check out tons of kids’ books. Children’s books are highly circulated on Wednesday mornings,” Albricht said.

The Colfax Public Library is always open to new ideas as well.

“Any useful ideas or educational toys, we’d like to hear about it. Maybe we can swap out some of our educational toys with some of the parents,” she said.

After the children are finished with Story Time and have finished their craft projects or pictures, they are displayed at the library on a bulletin board.

“Kids love that. One little boy ended up making two things because he wanted to take home what he made, but he wanted us to put up on the bulletin board what he made,” Albricht said.

Summer Reading

Albricht also will be in charge of planning and administering the Summer Reading program at the Colfax Public Library.

The Summer Reading program is in July for ages five to ten and will feature a variety of guest speakers and performers.

“This year we are having a bug guy come. And a scientist. A musician. And RadZoo (Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo). We will work that around crafts and snacks, and kids will get prizes for the number of books they read,” Albricht said.

Story Time will run until April, and then after that, Albricht will be preparing for the Summer Reading program.

“Registration for Summer Reading will be in June. We will have packets available to give you all of the pertinent information, and you can sign your kids up. There’s no cost, and it is open to anyone and everyone,” she said.

Lego Club

The Colfax Public Library also is planning to start a Lego Club.

“A couple of other libraries have been doing it and have contests,” Albricht said.

“We were hoping if someone out there has Legos they are no longer using, they might be willing to donate them to the library, or that we could purchase,” she said.

“We were thinking of a Monday night or a Thursday night, and the kids could build Lego projects, and we’d have a contest and give out prizes,” Albricht said.

Lego Clubs have been popular and successful at other libraries, and Albricht hopes that it will be just as successful at the Colfax library.

Book club

The Colfax Public Library has a book club for adults too.

“The adult book club meets every third Thursday. We all have a book that we read, and we talk about it when we have our reading. Pros and cons, what you liked and what you didn’t. And you can make suggestions about what we will read next,” Albricht said.

“Some of the books we’ve read have been made into movies. There are about six of us, so anyone who is interested should come into the library to get information. Some of the books are new, but some are classics. We read anything from murder mysteries, serial killers to comedy to anything. Everybody gets to suggest,” she said.

Other services

The Colfax Public Library offers a variety of other services, such as delivering books to the homebound, lending out Kindles, and helping people find what they want on the MORE system.

“If anyone is homebound and wants a book, we will deliver it. They can call down here, and we will come out and bring the books,” Albricht said.

The Colfax Public Library is a member of the MORE system, a consortium of libraries in Western Wisconsin that share resources totaling more than one million items.

Library patrons can search the online MORE catalog to find just about anything.

Chances are that if the Colfax Public Library does not have what someone is looking for, one of the other libraries in the consortium will have it.

And one of the benefits of the MORE system is that you can check out a book from one library and can return it to any library that is part of the system.

“Many times people will call in or come in, and if they don’t have a computer or are not familiar with the MORE system and want help finding books, we will help them find the books they want. It’s our pleasure,” Albricht said.

The Colfax Library also has Kindles that can be checked out.

And although Albricht agrees that there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands, the Kindles fill an important role too.

“They are portable and convenient. You can read them in the dark. People like them for traveling,” she said.

The books on tape, which are no longer tape per se and are actually books on CD, are popular among library patrons as well.

“We have a lot of truck drivers who like the books on tape. We’ve got a lot of new ones,” Albricht said.

And the Colfax library has DVDs.

“We  have a nice variety for children, families and adults,” Albricht said.

“We want people to know that the library is constantly getting new books and new movies. If you think you’ve already seen it, in another month or two, there will be a new selection. Or you can go on the MORE system and find any book you want. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, we’ll help you,” she said.