Summer has just begun but the Speer Memorial Library has been on summer mode for nearly a month.
The library offers programs, crafts, continuing education, guest speakers and entertainers and a 3D printer among other amenities for all ages. And, of course, they have books (books to read, books to download and audiobooks).
The children’s programs are open for ages 3-17. Matt Tardy entertained the young ones on Wednesday. Tardy is a juggling magician from Austin and children’s librarian Lisa Rivera said that the reception for the summer entertainers so far has been strong.
“Of course it varies as to how many children come but we have gotten 65-75 for some of our speakers,” Rivera said. “That and when we have crafts seems to bring in the largest number of kids. The numbers will vary though. We expect more in July after summer school is over and when a lot of family vacations are done.”
H-E-B, the National Butterfly Center, an ambulance group, Rodeo Dental and other local organizations volunteer to come and entertain and talk with the children during the summer.
More than 280 children have signed up for the library’s summer program and can still register. The program is free and offers a variety of activities. The summer reading program can give children a head start on the upcoming school year with AR (Advance Reading) points. They read a book, answer two questions about the book and then can test to earn points in the advanced reading program.
One of the latest trends in school programs is focusing on STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and the library looks for opportunities to teach the kids different ways they can use those courses.
“One time we gave them toothpicks and marshmallows and asked them to build a tower as high as they could. They started working together to do it,” Rivera said. “It’s having fun while being educational. Of course, some of the kids wanted to eat the marshmallows before they built the tower.”
During one day this week, children were seen scattered throughout the library. Some were looking for books, others were coloring and some were playing games – from the interactive ABC Mouse program to educational and even adventure games on the computers in the children’s section. More than 250 computers are spread throughout the library. Computer assistance is available from staff and a patron can even check out a mobile hotspot device to use.
Another popular program for the children is the yoga classes; there’s even baby and toddler yoga classes.
“There’s something for all ages and a wide variety of things for everyone to do,” Rocha said. “Every year it gets bigger and we are doing more.”
Another favorite is in the coding world when Mission CISD brings its Ozobots. Its next trip to the library is slated for 3:30 p.m. on June 28. Ozobots are tiny robots that are programmed to follow a path drawn on craft paper using a specialized pen that the robots can “read” through their programming.
Of course, where would a summer program be without crafts – lots and lots of crafts. The participants have already created a birdhouse, a fish and a family tree. Other upcoming projects include a fidget spinner (June 26), a robot (June 27), Fourth of July poppers (July 3), a straw bracelet (July 10) and an air balloon (June 11).
Plenty for Adults Too
But adults don’t have to feel left out. There are many programs the library offers for them as well. Of course, there’s a summer reading book list – and yes a book review is due for each book. With the review comes two entries for a Fire 7 tablet to be drawn on Aug. 4.
“We alternate the type of books from classic to a newer book,” said Library Director Mayra Rocha. “We have about 15 regulars who enjoy the group discussions.”
Another popular techno toy for the adults is a new 3D printer. Not only can a patron build something to print, but they can look through books that show a variety of 3D crafts and items. If they find one they particularly like, they just print the item – in three dimensions.
The library also offers a variety of online classes. Subjects like babysitting, decoration or coding classes are offered as well as classes to earn a GED. “These are great classes to take,” Rocha said. “You earn a certificate of completion and if the subject is something you are looking to do maybe as a career then you have this certificate to put in with your resume and experience. It’s very helpful.”
Of course, what would a summer program be without summer movies. Speer Memorial Library has two dates reserved for the 18-and-older Movie Days on Aug. 8 when they will show “The Accountant” and on Aug, 25 when “Collateral Beauty” is played. Popcorn and drinks will be provided.
Patrons can also download e-audio books and e-books as well as digital magazines and Comics Plus. All a patron needs to check out a book is a library card from any of the libraries in the county. If the book is not at the nearest library, the libraries work together to find the book somewhere in the county and send it to the library where the patron is. That’s not the same with the electronic books and magazines as each city has different programs for their online material. That, however, will soon change as a grant provided by the county will merge all of the magazines, books and comics online to provide patrons with a huge selection of options.
“We’re really excited about that,” said Rocha, who admitted to be an audiobook fan. “A lot of people use those electronic editions or listen to ebooks and to be able to provide such a variety to everyone in the county is just a terrific capability.
The Speer Memorial Library’s web page is filled with images of programs currently taking place. Click on the image and more information about that program is provided. Visit www.mission.lib.tx.us for more information. The Speer Memorial Library is located at 801 E. 12th St. in Mission.