One of the most important times of the year is on the horizon at the Marian J. Mohr Memorial Library.
Director Jon Anderson and children’s librarian Meri Carney sat down with the Sun Rise last week to discuss programming planned for April vacation and their efforts to further expand the library’s community outreach. Johnston students are off from April 15-19, and Anderson and Carney aim to give them plenty to do.
First and foremost is Project Chick, a presentation from Casey Farm. Carney said as part of the program, an educator from the farm visits the library and brings eggs from different birds. The library is provided with an incubator, and three weeks later, youngsters can watch as chicks hatch and enter the world.
The event has been held for five consecutive years, and Anderson said that “animals are a sure thing” to get people through the library’s door. The educator from Casey Farm will visit the library on Wednesday, April 17, at 10:30 a.m.
“We have the families come here,” Carney said. “If they’re lucky, they can even catch the chick coming out of the egg and watch it. And a couple days after that, the kids can hold the chick, pet them, and a week later the chicks go back to the farm.”
Carney said Project Chick is a hit with all ages, especially children, but that teenagers are very gentle with the birds as well.
Vacation week’s other main draw will be Malik the Magic Guy, who will perform on Thursday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. The show is special because, due to the limited space available, free tickets have to be issued to those interested. The library will open the doors to its downstairs space and set up chairs for Malik to work his magic.
“We only do that for the largest programs – maybe five programs a year or shows where we expand it out, maybe a little more than that,” Anderson said. “We kind of experimented with having music programs, and a few of those we opened the doors for.”
Anderson said the library has been conducting outreach, ramping it its efforts this year to emphasize Mohr’s presence in and importance to the community. He said that there are plenty of residents seeking meeting space, and there is potential for more programs to be featured on the schedule.
Carney said children from the Early Childhood Center next door take field trips to the library, and librarian Elizabeth Greenwood regularly communicates with preschools in town.
Carney said Greenwood visits seven different preschools every month, and she’s heavily involved in Thornton Elementary School’s after-school programs as well.
“We also have a good relationship with Thornton,” Carney said. “She goes and visits them. They had one of their parent meetings here, and it was very well attended. We also visit other schools, once a year, to promote our summer reading program. It’s our bread and butter. And the rest of the year, we go if they invite us and participate in book fairs.”
The relationship has proven to be symbiotic. The schools help Mohr promote its programs, and the library staff delivers flyers for distribution throughout the schools. Carney said it is a “fantastic way for us to reach the community.”
Carney added that other events include Drop-In Family Crafts, which are held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday through the end of June. The flyer notes that craft programs aren’t appropriate for children under 3, as small parts might pose a hazard.
The Rhode Island Historical Society will present a lecture entitled “Rabble Rousers” on April 1. Lego Club will also be held April 11 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., opening up the library and it’s more than 10,000 bricks to interested builders.
Both Anderson and Carney acknowledged the volunteer efforts of Kathy Lombardo, who has been helping Mohr for five years. She’s done everything from decorations to activities, and she’s one part of what makes the library inviting for those seeking a book, movie or program.
“We’ve always had very strong programming. I think that we’ve done a lot more outreach,” Anderson said. “The library is busy on a regular basis for after-school kids. Some of them are just hanging out here, but some of them are also doing their homework and doing other kinds of things.”