Washington Parish Library keeping kids engaged

Published 2:29 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

With the recent surge of COVID, the Washington Parish Library system has been unable to have large groups of children in the libraries for programs, but each branch is still keeping children engaged despite the pandemic restrictions. The libraries are offering virtual story times as well as providing outreach services by visiting the schools to read to the children. During the 2021 Summer Reading Program, which has always been a great success for the library system, the pandemic didn’t make a dent in the high volume of participation at each of the branches. Instead, every branch experienced unprecedented numbers of participants in each event sponsored by the library staff.

At the Bogalusa Branch, Jennifer Seals, the children’s programs coordinator, continuously provides various activities that ensure that the kids stay in touch with the library. Currently, Seals (or as the kids call her, “Miss Jennifer”) has a dinosaur vocabulary scavenger hunt where the kids pick up a vocabulary sheet with clues. As the kids find each vocabulary word, they fill in the blanks. Once the sheet is completed, the kids can enter into a drawing for a “dinosaur” prize. Miss Jennifer is also doing virtual Story Time on the Bogalusa Branch Library Facebook page where kids watch Miss Jennifer read “The First Birthday Party Ever” and other books. The kids can then come to the library to pick up a “take-and-make” craft to do at home along with a snack and a drink. For those kids who can’t make it to the library, Miss Jennifer plans to provide outreach services to the schools and to the Bogalusa Head Start.

Children are able to get their own library card at 5 years old. September is a great time to do that since it is National Library Card Sign-Up month. At Bogalusa, Miss Jennifer makes a big deal over first time library cards. Wanting it to be a memorable experience, she makes a bag for each new patron containing a book, a drink, and a snack. With parental permission, she then takes a picture of the new little patron to place on the “new patron wall” and also posts it on Facebook

The libraries are also working keep adult patrons engaged, offering new types of technology thanks to generous federal grant funding. Each library now has hotspots to check out for seven days (Bogalusa now has 10 hotspots) and soon will also have laptops, iPads, and tablets that will also be available for checkout. Tech Time is still available on Thursdays at Bogalusa from noon to 1 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but it is best to call for an appointment at 735-1961.

In keeping with the commitment to provide quality goods and services to the communities throughout the parish, the Washington Parish library staff continuously strives to serve the public as well as possible despite the restrictions of COVID. As a community partner, the library system hopes to continue to be a bright spot for all citizens of Washington Parish.

This article was written by Melanie Charrier, the Bogalusa Branch Library Manager.