Written by Jessamyn Rubio
When people think of libraries, books come to mind. But our community libraries offer much, much more.
We spoke to Rachel Timm about some of the other services available to families in this Q&A. Rachel is the youth services coordinator at Pittsylvania County Public Library. This is an edited version of our conversation.
SoVa Parents: Thanks for talking with us today, Rachel. Could you provide some context for what you do at your job?
Rachel Timm: I coordinate the youth service programs for the Pittsylvania County Public Library system. At the Mt. Hermon branch, I provide children’s programs, early-literacy outreach and other patron services.
SoVa Parents: What do you think is the library’s best hidden treasure?
Rachel: Libraries have the power to bring people together; they are becoming community centers.
I’ve witnessed many strong connections formed between people who meet at a library event. For instance, families new to the area might drop in for a toddler program and leave an hour later with new friends and playdates — and hopefully some good books, too! It is this, the person-to-person connection, that I believe is the library’s best hidden treasure.
SoVa: You mentioned that the library has a number of programs beyond books. What else should parents know?
Rachel: We offer so many resources! I like to think of these in three complementary categories:
- and recreation.
In addition to thousands of books, we also provide free internet, movies, audiobooks, and other digital content. We also provide online homework assistance (3rd-12th grade), genealogy/local history research, and other support services for students and lifelong learners.
SoVa: Families may not realize your range of offerings. Could you share some examples?
Absolutely. Every Wednesday morning, each branch offers a program designed for children and their caregivers. The 20-minute program includes stories, songs, rhymes, and finger-puppet plays. Many families stay longer just for the additional playtime and social interaction.
These programs are all literacy-positive. In other words, we specifically aim to create positive experiences with stories and books in early childhood because we know it helps build the foundation for a life-long love of reading.
SoVa Parents: Okay, so the philosophy behind these programs is to have fun while subtly guiding our children on a good track for life. There’s abundant research on the significant benefits of reading, such as improved imagination, enhanced memory, and academic success. I’m guessing these are the reasons we should care whether our children enjoy reading. Tell us more.
Mother Goose on the Loose is designed for our youngest patrons: babies and toddlers. This program uses simple rhymes and storytelling techniques like flannel boards, puppets, scarves, and rhythm sticks.
We offer winter and summer reading programs for all ages. These programs incentivize reading engagement with special events and a chance to win prizes.
The library hosts knitting and crochet groups, too. There are art classes, Minecraft meet-ups, STEM programs (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics), LEGO programs, and family movie days.
Honestly, there is such a variety that it’s best to check our monthly calendar to see what is happening at your local branch!
SoVa: Some parents work full-time. Is there a way for them to be involved, too?
Rachel: Absolutely! We understand that sometimes families have difficulty attending weekday morning programs so here at the Mt. Hermon branch we offer a Bedtime Story program in the evening (third Thursdays) as well as Saturday programs. Our “Back to Basics” event on the second Saturday of each month offers family fun: Legos for free play, old school board games like checkers and Jenga, and coloring.
SoVa: What are your most popular events?
Rachel: Dr. Seuss’s Birthday is always fun! Throughout the day we offer art projects, a Read-A-Thon, and Seuss-inspired goodies and freebies.
Star Wars Reads Day is an annual celebration of all things Star Wars and the joy of reading! This happens in October and we always make it a special time for all ages! Last year we had a special visitor from the 501st Legion join us with some incredibly detailed cosplay!
SoVa: How can people learn about upcoming activities or find specific resources?
Rachel: We have a fantastic website recently redesigned by our creative tech team.
Our online catalog even includes a fun kid’s catalog. This is a great tool for helping young children learn how to search for resources. My favorite new feature on our catalog is the recent addition of Accelerated Reader (AR) information for elementary students. I encourage everyone to visit http://www.pcplib.org and explore the possibilities!
SoVa: Thanks for talking with us and for all that you do for our community!