By REBECCA HAZEN
Dade County Public Library Manager Mindy Haworth and Youth Education Coordinator Spencer Pennington have worked hard to develop community relationships and offer a wide range of new programming at the library throughout the month of April.
This month, students from Dade County Schools will have the opportunity to visit the library. Dade County Middle and High School special education students will visit, in addition to first and second graders at Dade Elementary School.
All classes will get a tour of the library, a story read to them by Pennington, and will have the opportunity to do a craft activity.
“I love that we have developed partnerships with the schools. We are excited to have them here, and the teachers are excited, too. We are filling in gaps. The school’s libraries offer different things from what we offer. I want to make sure that it is complementary,” Haworth said.
Other new partnerships have been formed with Dade County 4-H, and the local Boy Scout troops as well.
Earlier this week, a fishing program was put on between the library and the Boy Scouts. A kid’s archeology program was also held jointly between the library and 4-H, and coming up, a teen and tween program on anthropology will be held jointly with 4-H.
In addition, the Manga Club is ongoing, with its second meeting on April 7 at 5 p.m.
“It’s an art class, but it’s really just a fun time. We have one activity that we plan to do, but it’s informal,” Pennington said.
Another teen program will be a game night on April 21 at 5 p.m. Local business Druid’s Lair has offered to let the library borrow some games for the event.
A kid’s comic explosion event will be on April 12, at 4 p.m.
“We have a comic book collection in our young adult section, so we’re going to highlight that. We’re going to make comic book characters, make a storyline and maybe a craft like a mask,” Pennington said.
A movie matinee event will be April 19 at 4 p.m. The movie will be rated G and will have a superhero theme. There will be popcorn available, and the event will be accessible for everyone.
“We will have soft lighting on, and the volume will be at a manageable level. There will be breaks taken throughout the movie. It will be sensory friendly and energetic child friendly,” Pennington said.
A new Pokémon League will start on April 26 at 4 p.m. It will be open for all ages. Pennington hopes to include all assets, including the trading card game, Pokémon Go, and video games. The library acquired a Nintendo Switch video game console specifically for this new club. Lender decks will also be available.
Pennington says that right now he is in the experimenting phase for program ideas. He recently attended a conference for youth education in libraries, which has helped.
A teen advisory board, as well as a young adult advisory board, will also start later this month. Those on the advisory boards will get volunteer experience, in addition to being able to provide input on future programs and book purchases.
“This is a good way to help out and to also have a voice,” Pennington said.
“Building the teen demographic in the library is important to us. Spencer puts a survey out at the end of every program, asking what they think. A lot of times it’s not about the program, it’s about who’s coming. If you have a group of kids coming, they’re going to bring more people,” Haworth said.
This month, there is programming for each age group, each week, which both Haworth and Pennington think is a great step in the right direction.
“In 2021, there were two teen programs, with two participants each. Even though we haven’t had huge numbers yet, we’ve already put on three teen programs. Different kids have come in each time,” Haworth said.
In addition, Ready to Read story time is every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The event has been growing. A record number of children, over 30, recently attended, along with over 20 adults.
Also, Pennington is looking to hire a marketing intern for the spring and summer season. The intern must be a currently enrolled Dade County High School sophomore, junior or senior that has at least a 3.0 GPA and an interest in pursuing a marketing career. A cover letter and resume can be sent to email@example.com.
Adult and family programming includes Intermediate Quilting on April 9, Quilting for Beginners on April 26 and Juggling for Families on April 28. The adult Book Club will meet April 19. Haworth hopes to hold at least two adult programs per month going forward.
The schedule for all Dade County Library programming can be found on the library’s social media pages, and the Cherokee Regional Library System’s website, chrl.org. Events are also listed on the calendar at dadecounty-ga.gov.
“The library is the center of the community. We want to make sure that we are bringing the people in that don’t know about it, and that we are providing services to people that already use it. We have a lot of passion,” Haworth said.