By Eric Hansen
There are numerous opportunities for young people to enjoy socialization and learning at the Vicksburg District Library, said library Director John Sheridan. In December alone, the library offered 16 programs for children and youth from pre-K through teen years. Another seven programs at the library were managed by outside presenters, including two local Girl Scouts troops.
On each weekday, the library provides computer access to students who come after school to play video games and access the Internet. Other groups of teens and pre-teens come to socialize quietly or study before they go home for the evening. “This makes the Vicksburg District Library a safe and educational stopover for young people who need to wait for a ride home or must wait for a parent or guardian to come home from work,” Sheridan said.
One of these young people, Nisajwen, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, explained that he “likes the wide selection of books and using computers to learn things and play games.” Nisajwen’s mother also likes the way that he is involved with our Bulldog Break program that includes Wii U games, socialization, and snacks, and with other programs for kids. That family offers service back to the community by volunteering to work in the obituary collection, while also having the benefit of the pleasant social environment full of stories and information, Sheridan pointed out.
Other families, such as the Veldermans, are part of Vicksburg’s significant homeschooling community and use the library’s books, DVDs, and MeL interlibrary loan resources to educate their children. Kate, Louisa, Luke, and Will Velderman described their favorite school subjects, listing science, math and history. Luke shared that his current project was writing an essay about University of Michigan football.
The library’s homeschooling assistance extends to Stephanie Willoughby’s book club for homeschooled students. This monthly meeting provides social value while augmenting homeschooling – it is meant as an opportunity to discuss books outside of students’ homeschool curriculum with other young people. “It fosters strong social relationships while students discuss books they love,” Willoughby said.
Willoughby, the youth services librarian, also purchases compelling graphic novels and books for different age groups. She and other staff assist young people in learning by using their skill set in dealing with children and prior experience working in college education. Willoughby is eager to receive suggestions for purchasing new books and resources that prepare young people for the future. Even though it is not possible to fulfill every purchase request, the library staff enjoys learning what youth in the community need in order to succeed.