Kelli Keyes on Tuesday was loading up four boxes of canned goods for the local food pantry, the bounty from a flush of Columbus Public Library patrons participating in the Food for Fines effort during Monday’s launch of registrations for the library’s summer reading programs.
“We were tickled with the great turnout,” said Keyes, who oversees the adult reading program and is the library’s customer service manager.
The adult reading program attracted 43 registrations on the first day of signups. Keyes said people can bring in three cans to cover the late fees per account, but not for lost or damaged items.
“Food was coming in like crazy,” the library employee said, adding 27 people came in and took advantage of the library’s efforts to encourage reading and get their accounts in order.”
Meanwhile, Emely Mullally, a recent graduate of Columbus High; Emylie Leffers, who will be a ninth grader at Lakeview High in the fall; and Ben Policky, who will enter the ninth grade at Scotus Central Catholic at the end of summer, were among the volunteers assisting the children’s reading program on the second level of the facility.
“I love to read,” said Mullally, turning the page on the young adult novel, 'Thirteen Reasons Why' by Jay Asher.
“This is my first year helping with the kids,” she said, adding because she has to hold down a job this summer she’ll be limited to a couple of days a week.
Leffers said she expects to attend the reading program Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout June and July.
“I’d like to help kids in early-childhood, help them learn to be better readers,” she said.
Policky is lending his hand to the program as a way to participate in local community service. All three of the young adults were busy with their noses in books on Tuesday while waiting for children to register to participate in the reading program.
On Thursday, the library is planning a visit from magician Jeff Quinn of Omaha. The performance for the popular magician is scheduled from 2-3 p.m. in the library’s auditorium, which is also the site for animated family movies during regular children’s activities.
Rachelle McPhillips heads the library’s young adults reading program, which targets children from seventh through 12th grades.
“We want to establish the library as the place to go, an entertaining place to visit,” said McPhillips, who registered the first 31 potential readers. She said about 125-130 young adults participate in the program during a normal year.
“The idea behind visiting the library and encouraging reading is to prevent the summer slide (in reading skills many young people experience when away from school),” said McPhillips, noting the reading room sounds were muted at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“That’ll change in about an hour,” she said.
Summer reading isn’t just for kids.
Melissa Sargent has always been an avid reader. She recalled the days growing up on a farmstead and heading out during the summer days for the nearby family camper and a gently swinging hammock to read in.
“I love thrillers,” said Sargent, who added her 20-year-old daughter, Cassie, is also a voracious reader who will be participating in the adult reading program.
“I always read to all our kids while they were growing up,” she said, adding she has participated in the adult reading program for four years.
Sargent is currently just getting started on “Lost Creed” by Alex Kava, formerly of Silver Creek. The author’s primary character, Ryder Creed, has dedicated his life to his K9 business in which he rescues abandoned dogs and trains them for scent detection.
“I love her writing style,” Sargent said.
Kava now spends most of her time at homes in Omaha and Florida.
Children’s Librarian Brad Hruska said the library has a full slate of activities on tap for this summer.
Reader events will include animal visits, tie-dying T-shirts, make some noise with musician Michael Fitzsimmons, learning about the art of graffiti, popcorn and movies, escape room challenges while solving puzzles and piecing together clues and concluding with a Pawnee Plunge party before the water park opens and followed by a picnic July 27 at the park.
The summer program ends July 31 for adults and Aug. 3 for teens and children.
The theme of the summer, according to Hruska, is Libraries Rock. To learn more about the reading program and other activities, visit the library, 2504 14th St., or its website.
Jim Osborn is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.