Local youngsters enjoy magical summer at library
Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:09 pm
The last day of the Obion County Summer Reading Program was “magical” for local children.
Magician Chris Egelston performed impressive tricks as the children chanted the magic words, “Reading is magic!”
After his program, children who read more than 40 books each were eligible to win a variety of prizes, including Diamond Jaxx tickets, two $50 savings bonds from Reelfoot Bank, three bicycles, water bottles, books and more.
Obion County Public Library children’s director Melanie Mitchell said 197 children read 40 books or more, and a total of 11,090 books were read during the program this year.
“I am thrilled that so many of the children of Obion County were involved with the summer reading program this year,” she said. “It is a fun way to encourage children to keep up and improve their reading skills while not in school. Obion County is very fortunate to have so many businesses and volunteers who are concerned with the education of our children that they donated money, prizes and their time.”
Library director Michele Barnes said this year’s program averaged around 380 children at the Monday morning events.
“That is quite an amazing number when you consider that the same program averaged around 60 children in the old facility on First Street just seven years ago,” she said.
She said the success of this and other library programs should serve as a good reminder of just how blessed Obion County residents are to have the library facility they do.
The $5.5 million state-of-the-art facility is a far cry from the past homes of the Obion County Public Library — most recently on First Street and before that on West Church Street where the law office of John Warner is today.
Architecturally, the library exudes excellence and its interior is open and inviting for patrons with a fireplace, couches and free coffee creating a relaxed “coffee house” feel. With a children’s center, meeting rooms, an extensive genealogy department, a park and plenty of materials, the Obion County Public Library has not only improved individual lives but the life of our whole community.
“We wanted it to be more of a ‘hub’ for the whole community,” Mrs. Barnes said.
The objective has certainly been met.
“Attendance increased from 51,000 to 116,195 in the first year of opening and programs increased from seven to 291,” former library director Mary Ann Carpenter said.
From preschool story time and children’s Saturday art programs to teen open mic night and adult computer classes, there is literally something for everyone at OCPL, not to mention the fact that it contains the largest public collection in West Tennessee outside of Jackson and Memphis, has over 30 public access computers, has one of the largest genealogy departments in the area, was one of the first in the state to use radio frequency to check out materials (RFID), is built to Standard 4 earthquake resistance, sits on four acres of land and, at 30,000 square feet, is five times the size of the old facility.
While it may not be the sole public library of this caliber, it is unique in that it is completely paid for. “This is almost unheard of,” Mrs. Barnes said. “Thanks to the generous donations of Obion Countians, especially Bill and Carol Latimer and the late Mrs. Tom (Kathleen) Elam, our county truly has one of the most outstanding public libraries in the state.”
As the inscription over the entrance of the library at Thebes reads in ancient Greek, libraries are “Medicine for the Soul.” People have realized the social, cultural, recreational and educational benefits of libraries for centuries, and for the past seven years, Obion Countians have enjoyed a facility where these benefits are fully realized.
Editor’s Note: Emily Williams, the daughter of Roger and Juli Williams of Woodland Mills, is a senior at Rhodes College in Memphis. She is interning at The Messenger this summer.
Published in The Messenger 7.20.10