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Teen book club, Accelerated Reader and Toddler Story Time going strong at Colfax Public Library

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  If you haven’t been to the Colfax Public Library lately, well, there’s a lot going on.

Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the public library, started the teen book club about a year ago.

The teen book club “is very relaxed. It’s about the joy of reading. The kids pick the books they want to read. And I read them too. We discuss the books, but also, the kids talk to each other. They are forming relationships with each other. It’s a safe environment because I’m leading the group,” Hurlburt said.

The teen book club meets every Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. for 30 minutes and is a mix of both boys and girls, although right now, there are more girls than boys.

“There’s not a huge number of kids involved with it, and we do have room for more,” Hurlburt said.

“Some are home schooled, and some go to the public school. It’s kind of neat that they are getting to know each other, and both groups of kids benefit one another, too,” she said.

“We talk about the book in snippets. Sometimes three chapters or sometimes five chapters, depending on the size of the book. Kids typically come and go from it according to their school activities, if they are in a particular sport or a play and they can’t come for a while, that’s fine. When they come back, they pick up where they left off. We try to keep it to one book per month to keep readers interested,” Hurlburt said.

“It’s a very relaxed pace. Nobody gets in trouble if they didn’t do their reading. We always have some kind of little snack, too. Kids are hungry after school. It’s not a fancy snack, but it’s a snack,” she said.

Accelerated Reader

Students at Colfax Elementary have participated in the Accelerated Reader program for a number of years.

The youngsters read books appropriate for their reading level, and then they take quizzes on the books to earn points.

The children’s books and young adult books at the Colfax Public Library now have a label on the spine identifying them as a particular Accelerated Reader reading level.

The bright fluorescent green labels stand out in rows upon rows of books at the public library.

“The moms love it. They can come in here and pick out a book quickly (according to the reading level). They know their kid reads a 2.1 (reading level) and they can take the book and not take 25 books home and it ends up their child can’t read any of them (because the level is too advanced),” said Jolene Albricht, youth services librarian.

Labeling all of the books with the appropriate AR level seems like it would be a daunting and labor-intensive task.

Volunteers came in to label the books with the Accelerated Reading level and that was extremely helpful, Albricht and Hurlburt said.

“It’s those little details that make something easier to do,” Hurlburt said.

Toddler Story Time

And of course, the Colfax Public Library continues the tradition of Toddler Story Time for younger children on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

“One thing I’ve noticed too with a lot of the things we’re doing, especially I notice this at Story Time, the mothers are forming friendships with each other. They are supporting each other. The homeschool moms are supporting each other. And the new moms who just had a baby. They even formed a moms’ club. One of the moms took the initiative and set up a schedule for snacks so I didn’t have to provide the snack every Wednesday morning,” Albricht said.

“So now they are bringing these really cute themed snacks that pertain to what we read about. One mother made these little babies out of Nutter Butter cookies. So the mothers are loving the library and finding it a place where they can share and they can create friendships and the kids can play together,” she said.

“That’s the idea that this is everybody’s library. We want participation. We want people to feel invested in what is going on here,” Hurlburt said.

“We don’t want anyone to feel burdened or obligated. We want this to be a fun and easy time. But if they want to do it, we’ll accept the help,” Albricht said with a smile.

“When they get here, Jolene has the table set up so pretty, and she has thought about every detail and about what they’re going to do,” Hurlburt said.

Albricht, who is known to frequent visitors at the library as “Miss Jolene” “really goes above and beyond and has a strong attention to detail,” Hurlburt said.

Sometimes the Colfax Public Library’s Toddler Story Time has eight children, which is the number who can fit around the children’s table in the library, but sometimes there are twice that number of children.

Hurlburt and Albricht have back-up plans for just such occasions and have an extra table they can set up to accommodate more children.

And when there are more children than anticipated, the mothers who bring their children pitch in to help, Hurlburt said, noting that the mothers will help other children who need help, they will help with setting up supplies, and they will help with cleanup afterwards.

“We’re fortunate. We have a long history of being here,” Hurlburt said.

The Colfax Public Library has occupied the same space for the past one hundred years.

“Our location is great. The kids can walk down here after school. It’s not so terribly far. Moms might call us and say so-and-so is coming down, watch for them,” Albricht said.

“We’re hoping these kids can grow up thinking the library is a fun, safe place where you can learn things and find books to read,” she said.

Planning is also nearly complete for the Colfax Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Albricht said she has booked all of the performers and has ordered supplies.

Last year, Summer Reading had a record attendance, with more than 80 children participating in the  weekly event throughout the month of July.