By By Ben Rayner • 6/7/2022 8:49 am EST
The Guilford Free Library is back to full capacity, with regular opening hours, and staff look forward to bringing back a sense of normality after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A range of entertaining and fascinating summer programs encompass both education and entertainment.
“The last few years have certainly gotten things crazy, but we have a feeling that this year everyone is getting back to all the normal summer activities and we want people to know that includes the library,” said Lauretta Lyons , Head of Reference and Programming Librarian. “Schools have really helped us by encouraging reading over the summer and that helps keep their reading levels and academic performance high. So we are really looking forward to going back to where we were before COVID. The library feels like it used to be for the first time in a long time. Everyone is really excited, staff and guests. Most of the program, especially the summer reading, had to be all online and there were few in-person events. We weren’t able to do any kick-off events, but it’s really great to be back.”
One of the programs returning this season is Summer Reading for Kids. According to Lyons, this is a great program designed to track the books and the time they spend reading over the summer. The program rewards young readers and is a popular long-term activity with younger customers.
Angelina Carnevale, the director of the children’s department, said the program is an important educational tool for Guilford’s youth and is fun too.
“There’s a reading game. So if your child isn’t reading yet, keep track of the books you read to them. When your child reads, they record the minutes that they read themselves,” Carnevale said. “All of this reading and other optional challenge activities earn the kids points, and once they reach a certain number, they get a free book. And everyone gets a free book just for signing up – we’re all about books and reading. We have brand new books for the kids to choose from. It’s a library tradition and obviously very popular with the kids.”
Sara Martone, Teen Services/Supervisory Librarian, said there will also be a number of youth-focused programs and activities. As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there will be a range of Potter-themed activities, Martone said.
“We recently had our big launch event and a big scavenger hunt. It was chaos, but fun chaos, and they really loved it,” Martone said. “In our program, each of the kids gets sorted into a Hogwarts house, so that’s kind of like their team, and then they all try to read as many books as they can for their house and have a pizza party at the end of summer to win . They get a free book if they sign up too. It’s great to see how excited they are when they finally get to their house.”
Martone said there will also be other Potter-themed events, including baking programs, crafts and painting.
“We’re going to be doing Harry Potter stuff all summer. It’ll just be Harry all summer,” Martone said, laughing. “We will have Harry Potter bingo and a Potter spelling bee, also with a Potter theme. The series is still incredibly popular and teenagers really love it.”
Paws and Read is another program aimed at children that connects children with therapy dogs, according to Carnevale.
“Reading is fun, but even better when you’re reading to an adorable dog,” says Carnevale. “Any child who is five years old and reading independently can register for a 15-minute reading time. We have a certified therapy dog that comes in twice a week for them to read to. And they enjoy that very much.”
Lyons said a grant from the Guilford Foundation and its Youth Advisory Group will help fund a gaming tournament to be held in July.
“We’re going to have a big Mario Kart tournament next month in July. So this will be very exciting for the kids. This is Wednesday, July 27th from 2pm to 5pm. There will also be an award,” said Carnevale. “We decided to do this because post-pandemic, there really wasn’t a chance for the kids to socialize, and this is a chance to socialize by everyone doing something they really enjoy.”
There are a variety of other programs and events for residents to explore at the library, including some summer entries in their Library of Things collection, including: Can Jam, Corn Hole, Horseshoes, Badminton, and Spike Ball Sets, all of which are available to borrow . Other programs include book reading programs, author visits, craft activities and demonstrations, as well as the American Girl Doll program in partnership with the Guilford Keeping Society, pollinator garden activities and more.
All program information is available on the library’s website. Patrons can also sign up and register for all programs through the website. 203-453-8282 or www.guilfordfreelibrary.org/ Sponsors can also register for all programs in person at the library.