Children were in the spotlight on Saturday, February 5, as the Tangipahoa Parish Library System celebrated National Take Your Child to the Library Day with a host of kid-friendly activities across the system’s five branches.
Lauren Liberto, children’s programmer at the system’s Hammond branch, said the special day was a celebration of what the library has to offer young people in a community.
“Of course, we welcome all ages to our libraries at all hours of operation, but Take a Kid to the Library Day gives us the opportunity to meet the needs of the children we serve. It’s important because if a child learns to enjoy and appreciate the library when they’re young, chances are they’ll want the library to be a part of their life for the rest of their life.” she declared.
Liberto orchestrated a number of activities for young visitors, accompanied by their parents, who chose to spend a few hours at the library branch in historic downtown Hammond. A focal point of the day’s activities was live music provided by Mason Heck, Amite Main Branch Library Manager and Adrian Rotondo McCash, also a member of the library staff. The duo opted to come up with jazz numbers, and Liberto said that during the day, Heck would give the kids a talk about jazz and its history so closely associated with New Orleans and the black musicians who were part of the early jazz artists.
“Emphasizing jazz was a way to provide a connection to Black History Month, celebrated in February, while providing live entertainment,” she explained. Also part of the day’s festivities was a second line that paid homage to the Mardi Gras season. The Hammond Fire Department brought one of its fire trucks to the library parking lot and invited children to climb all over the truck while the firefighters explained the equipment used to fight the fires.
Firefighters also entered the library and led the second line around the Mardi Gras tree in the center of the library to the fire truck. The firefighters had throws for the kids and toy fire helmets to wear.
“We thought it was a good idea to bring Louisiana traditions to our young visitors’ attention and they seem to be enjoying the experience,” Liberto said. “We wanted our little visitors to have action events while they were at the library so they understand that the library isn’t just about books.”
However, books have not been forgotten. All children who visited the library received a free book. Craft packets were also available for children to take home. The packages contained a variety of simple craft projects that Liberto said were always popular with children.
“A modern library has so much to offer in addition to books which remain the main reason for our presence here. We take every opportunity to showcase what we have to offer. Take your child to the library The day is always a special moment for our staff. By attracting children, we also bring their parents and grandparents and we have the opportunity to show what is available at the library. We want the library experience to be fun and rewarding and this special day gives us another opportunity to show the public what we have to offer,” she said.
In addition to the Hammond branch, the Amite, Ponchatoula, Independence and Kentwood libraries also held special Take Your Child to the Library Day events.
“We hope that the children we have had today will ask their mums and dads to take them to the library again and we will be more than happy to bring them in for games, crafts and, of course , books. Hopefully they come back often,” she said.