Katherine Roush: Libraries can meet needs in unexpected ways

Last year, my coworker lost her ring while working in the yard.

She and her children searched everywhere, but had no luck. Fortunately, the Greenwood Public Library Kids Department has a metal detector kit available for checkout. She checked it out and found her ring in no time.

While we usually think of libraries as places to check out books, magazines or new DVDs, today’s libraries connect their communities to resources in ways that might surprise you. As my coworker discovered, sometimes the library can meet needs you might not expect.

Have you ever wanted to go stargazing, but don’t own a telescope? Does your child need help with sight words, but you don’t own the flashcards? Do you want to try out a new board game without the risk of spending money on a dud? All of these problems can be solved with a quick trip to the Greenwood Public Library, where we check out a range of kits that cater to different needs.

In the Kids Department, we have a robust collection of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) kits that provide children of all ages with opportunities to expand their scientific knowledge. If you haven’t heard of STEAM, it’s been a buzz-word in education for years. The focus on these interdisciplinary subjects expands our children’s knowledge beyond basic scientific concepts.

STEAM kits encourage curiosity, deepen problem solving skills and improve both creative and analytical thinking. If you have a young Jurassic Park fan at your house, our Dinosaur Fossil kit includes a T-Rex skeleton puzzle, replica dinosaur teeth and fossil plates to create your own fossil rubbings.

Do you have a reluctant reader? Or want to supplement with reading activities through school breaks? Our Beginning Reading kits might be just the thing.

Experts in reading education have known for decades that phonics instruction is the most effective way to teach children how to read, and yet it is not an integral part of every curriculum.

Many of our Beginning Reading kits focus on phonics for children who need this additional instruction. We have a set of the “Go Phonics” curriculum that can be checked out and used for tutoring or homeschooling. We also have a set of magnetic word family tiles, for readers to use to make different words, as well as several other Beginning Reader kits.

Our Early Learning kits are always a favorite with patrons. They are designed for younger children who need to play and tell stories as part of their developmental process. “Play” is a broad term to describe imaginative, explorative or fun behavior that children enjoy. Through play, children learn how to socialize with others, relieve stress, process emotions and more.

Our Early Learning kits provide inspiration and structure to support and encourage this important learning activity.

Our Splish Splash kit includes books about bath time as well as water-safe bath toys to play with. We also have Early Learning kits that focus on early childhood skills such as shoe tying and telling time.

Last but not least, we have our Board Game kits. Our librarians originally created a collection for families and adults in the adult section of the library.

If you’ve ever purchased an adult board game, you’re likely familiar with the cost – often between $30–$60 per game. The collection was such a success that we decided to add a game collection to our Kids Department as well. My personal favorites include Heist, an electronic game that gives directions to players with the goal of “cracking the safe,” as well as the classic Connect Four.

With all of these kits, our goal is to provide children with a breadth of new experiences and resources. You can play with Historic American Girl Dolls, like Kaya from the 1760s, or Julie from the 1970s. You can learn about becoming a new sibling with the Bitty Baby kit, try your hand at learning to play an instrument with the Ukulele kit or explore the CSI kit, which includes a microscope and case files, along with pieces of evidence that can be used to solve the mystery.

Whatever your interests, we guarantee you’ll find something fascinating at the Greenwood Public Library.

Katherine Roush is a children’s librarian at Greenwood Public Library. Library staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]