Full Steam Ahead

The Pioneer Library System’s Summer Reading Program returns in June and July, with a lot more than just books–although the library has a lot of those, too, with more than 700,000 items in its collection.

Summer Reading brings an array of themed performances and ways for readers of all ages to interact with their local library. This year’s themes are “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” for children; “Get in the Game: Read” for teens; and “Exercise Your Mind. Read!” for adults.

It’s a chance to keep kids learning, but perhaps not in the same straightforward means they would during the school year.

“When you’re delivering content, try to do it in a way that’s interesting and shrouded in trickery,” said musician Kevin Dolan. “Essentially, a good teacher will disguise the material in a certain way, and music has got such an emotional connection. The brain connects to it in so many ways, and we still remember things that we might have heard when we were kids.”

Dolan, a Kansas City-based musician better known by his performing name Dino O’Dell, is one of the touring performances that will go to each of Pioneer’s 11 hometown libraries.

Their mission is to entertain, teach some things but also get readers into the library. That’s where they can find that extensive library collection and connect with the words on the page of a book or the screen of an eReader.

Another feature getting its first summer of activity within the library is its new Maker Mobile. The Maker Mobile will bring STEM-focused programming (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into communities by literally bringing it to them.

It is a workshop on wheels, made from the frame of a Ford truck and featuring such items as a three-dimensional printer and scanner, CNC mill, laser cutter and laptops, as well as Wi-Fi access and an informational touchscreen television that will allow customers to learn about the library’s downloadable collection through OverDrive and many other online features and will tour the system at various events.

Programs of this sort also will be brought into libraries by the Oklahoma Museum Network, the outreach wing of Science Museum Oklahoma, which actually will perform maker-type programs not just for children but teen visitors and adults as well.

“There’s a big push, a move to go back to the basics with the maker movement, and people like that they can make their own cheaper and get just the things that they want,” said Eileen Castle, outreach coordinator with OMN.

Sponsors for this year’s edition of the Summer Reading Program are Hitachi Computer Products of America Inc., the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Oklahoma College Savings Plan, Sonic, The Oklahoman Newspapers in Education, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Pioneer Library System Foundation, Friends of the Library groups and the Pioneer Library System.

Find out more about any of the library’s programs and services by visiting any PLS library or going online to PioneerLibrarySystem.org.