In December, 2014, the Lancaster Literary Guild honored me with a two-year appointment as the first Lancaster County Children’s Laureate. There was no job description, other than a general charge to promote literacy and creativity among young people, county-wide. I figured the best way to reach as many of those young people as possible would be through their libraries. And so the Celebrate Libraries project was born.
With the help of the Guild, the Library System of Lancaster, participating area librarians, and Millersville University, the project is moving rapidly toward its culminating gala event at the Ware Center in Lancaster City from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on First Friday, April 1, 2016.
You’re invited! And you’re also invited to do something similar in YOUR county. Here’s the process:
Planning began with a meeting at the Library System office with Youth Services Manager Renee Christiansen and several area Youth Services librarians. I shared a few of the poems I’d written about libraries and proposed that the librarians come up with ways their own constituents could respond creatively to the “Celebrate Libraries” theme. The librarians appreciated the opportunity to tailor the challenge to their own interests and their communities’ needs. Some wanted to work with young children, others with tweens or teenagers, and still others with family groups. Great! Some were drawn to writing more poetry, one thought of puppets, another mused about music. All good! On April 1, I explained, we’d all come together at the Ware Center to share the results.
I’m eager to see what turns up! Perhaps a group of young people will want to create a short play or video or collection of photographs or a dance. Maybe some will decorate a scroll – or a quilt! — with all their reasons to love the library. Perhaps families will want to put together their own collections of writing and/or illustration or create a poster, a song, or a performance piece.
So many possibilities! The only “rule” I suggested was to take into consideration that whatever was created would need to be portable to the Ware Center on April 1. By March 10, each library will provide some idea of what that “whatever” might be so that the Ware staff can arrange wall space, tables, computers, a performance space, and so on.
I’ve made it clear that this is NOT to be a competition, but one, big, inclusive and joyous celebration of libraries. Everyone’s enthusiasm is welcome!
Finally, I made the offer to visit each library for an hour to inspire and brainstorm responses to the challenge. I plan to share a library poem or two, Mark Fearing’s hilarious illustrations for our upcoming book CHICKEN STORY TIME, set in a library, and Jerry Spinelli’s short story collection, THE LIBRARY CARD. As time permits, we’ll also do some guided poem and story-writing.
Here’s my schedule of library visits so far, offered in hopes some of you would like to attend. All are free and open to the public, but please contact your local library in case registration is required.
Manheim Community Library
January 23, 10 a.m.
Manheim Township Public Library
January 26, 6 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
February 3, 1:30 p.m.
February 11, 6:30 p.m.
Eastern Lancaster County Library
March 3, 6:30 p.m.
Lancaster Public Library
March 4, 5:30 p.m.
March 11, Time TBA
Moores Memorial Library
March 17, 6 p.m.
Adamstown Area Library
March 30, 4 p.m.
Pequea Valley Public Library
Date and time TBA
If you’re inspired to do a similar project in your area, please know that I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have or provide any other help I can to get you started.
Yours in celebration of libraries,