This summer, the popular Library in the Parks program returns to local parks. Once again, Aberdeen Timberland Library partners with the Aberdeen School District, Aberdeen Parks and Recreation and YMCA of Grays Harbor to bring weekly activities to local children. Each partner serves a different need for the youth in the community, from free lunch to reading activities to outdoor games.
Join the Summer in the Parks kick-off event on Saturday, June 16 at Finch Playfield from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Then, each Monday through Thursday until August 2, families can find the library tent at one of four area playfields between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
- Mondays: Finch Playfield
- Tuesdays: Peterson Playfield
- Wednesdays: Pioneer Park
- Thursdays: North End Playfield
At the library tent, toddlers through teenagers can read or check out books. They can sign up for the summer reading program and collect prizes. And they can complete science and art projects and engage with the same board games and construction tools they have come to love at the brick-and-mortar library in downtown Aberdeen.
“Library in the Parks is an extension of the youth services department at the library, almost a full-service site,” explains Jessica Friberg, the Youth Services Librarian. “At our Library in the Parks sites, children and families can expect staff that is passionate about the community, dedicated to children and learning.”
The theme of this year’s program is Libraries Rock, with an emphasis on music and all things brain-building. As part of the theme, the library will host two concerts for families at the Aberdeen Timberland Library. Harmonica Pocket will play Wednesday, June 27, and Magic Mama will play Wednesday, July 11.
As a special treat, this year’s program includes Storytime in the Garden on Friday, July 27 from 11:00 a.m. to noon at the Cultivating Roots Community Garden in Aberdeen.
The Library in the Parks program brings the entire summer reading program to families who cannot easily come to the downtown library. Children and families have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity. They love the art projects and the science experiments. Older children read to their younger siblings, and youth of all ages check out books from the book tent.
“We have some families that park hop,” reports Friberg. “They follow the library tent to all four of our sites for that week because they want to do more. It’s a great chance to also experience the different parks.”
Friberg and her team are careful to collect and respond to community feedback. Popular items like Spanish language books, Magna Tiles and scavenger hunts will return. In addition, the library is adding board games and increasing the STEM activities available at the parks. This includes Ozobots, robots that the children can code using color sequences.
Naturally, books form the center of the Library in the Park activities. Children do not need a library card or a parent in order to check out books from the library tent. They simply return the books when they are finished. If they want to sign up for a library card that will allow them to check out books at the downtown library, they can do that at the parks during the weeks of June 25 and July 23.
The Library in the Parks program began in 2010, thanks to a generous grant from the Marion J. Weatherwax Endowment. Educators have long noticed a trend called the “summer slide,” the tendency for students to lose reading fluency during the summer break. Studies show that summer reading programs soften the summer slide, and that the positive effects last at least two years.
A survey of parents and caregivers conducted by the library showed that 92 percent of students in summer reading programs maintain or increase reading skills. A large majority of the children show more confidence in reading, read more often and use the library more often.
“I have parents tell me, ‘He stayed up past his bedtime to read a book. That’s never happened before!’” says Friberg.
The Aberdeen Timberland Library also offers several summer events targeted specifically to teens, including the fourth annual HarborCon on July 21 and a Harry Potter themed escape room on August 14. Students entering sixth through twelfth grades can learn about these programs, as well as youth volunteer opportunities, at the Youth Services desk at the library.
This cornucopia of events is designed to extend the learning experience in exciting ways throughout the summer break. As Friberg notes, “We can be called the people’s university. We are definitely advocates of books and literacy, but you can learn from hands-on activities, as well. We provide a community space where people can explore.”