LOOGOOTEE — Lots of giggles and smiles filled the youth activity room at the Loogootee Public Library last week as more than two dozen youth worked on crafting colorful birdhouses as part of the youth summer reading program.

“Makenzie Wagoner just finished her second year of elementary education and she is leading our youth summer reading program this year,” said Darla Wagler, director of the Loogootee library. “She’s doing a great job.”

Just days after meeting with Wagler about the opportunity, the elementary and early childhood education major already had lessons plans created for the programs that are free and open to youth through age 12.

“I’m really excited to be able to do this,” said Wagoner, who attends the University of Southern Indiana. “We have a lot of fun things planned for the kids that go with our “Tails and Tales” theme.”

The youth program kicked of last week with a visit from Silly Safari’s Ryan the Lion, a funologist, who showed youth some of his four-legged friends and an animal sleepover was held Friday night for stuffed animals but there are still plenty of other sessions youth can attend.

“Most of our programs revolve around animals,” said Wagoner, adding more than 90 youth have registered for the reading program that will continue through July. “You can sign up any time but the sooner you do, the more programs and activities there will be to take part in.”

From outdoor game night to building terrariums, Wagoner said there’s something all youth will be able to enjoy.

“We are also going to be doing STEM activities on most Fridays. Kids learn so much more than you may realize doing those hands-on activities. We will be making slime one day. We’ll be building things. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said, adding she’s been able to apply a lot of things she’s learned from her college courses to the offerings at the library. ‘This is such a great opportunity for me. I was already subbing at the schools a few days so I had already formed a connection with a lot of the kids.”

That connection has Wagler said, has made many kids excited about reading and going to the library.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in who said once their child found out Makenzie was going to be doing the programs, the really wanted to participate,” said Wagler.

“Reading is one of the best things children can do,” said Wagoner, adding a calendar of events for this month can be found on the library’s Facebook page. “And reading really sets kids up for life.”

Programs for adults too

While the children’s summer reading program is in full swing, the library offers may activities for adults as well. Saturday, a murder mystery dinner theater was held under the direction of Carolyn Parsons-Downey and there’s also a book club she leads.

“We try to cover all genres,” said Parsons-Downey. “We meet once a month to discuss the book we’ve chosen and then answer some questions. It’s pretty go with the flow.”

While the book club was meeting on Monday evenings, Parsons-Downey said holidays often change that schedule.

“There’s no registration needed so you can just show up and join us,” she said.

The library is also now home to a ViewScan machine thanks to a grant from the Martin County Community Foundation.

“If you have 35mm film negatives, you can now run those through the ViewScan and we can print the photos,” said Wagler. “You can also use it to look at microfiilm. We can scan newspapers to flash drives or to an email as well. It does a lot of different things. You could even view copies of the old Loogootee Tribunes.”

Wagler said other microfilm can also be requested from the Indiana State Library.

“It’s pretty easy to put in a request and the materials come within just a few days,” she said, adding the state library materials can be accessed at in.gov/library. “You can click on the “Ask A Librarian” tab and someone can help you find what you are looking for. We are really excited to have this for our community to use.”

For more information on the programs offered at the Loogootee Public Library call 812-259-3713.

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