Utah libraries: Summer reading programs and more

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Note: This post is by Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake City lawyer, immigration specialist for Telemundo Utah and host of the ‘Sin Rodeos’ radio show. He also was a member of the Salt Lake City Public Library board from 2009 to 2012.

The City Library. Photo by Mark Alvarez
The City Library. Photo by Mark Alvarez.

“Fizz! Boom! Read!” is the summer reading program for children in libraries across the United States. Librarians throughout Utah have been preparing opening parties and other events. Their plans include activities and opportunities for teenagers and adults.

The Salt Lake City Public Library promises “an explosion of fun this summer.” People of all ages can sign up for reading programs or simply enjoy the entertainment, which includes puppets, animals, magic, science and much more.

The kick-off party will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 31 at the Main Library, 400 South 210 East. It will begin with a presentation from Grant Imahara, who is a robot expert from the Mythbusters TV show and one of three official R2-D2 operators in the United States. The kick-off party also features a science festival and a reptile show.

Salt Lake County Library Services will hold their kick-off party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Jordan Library and Event Center, 8030 South 1825 West. There will be live music, puppets, crafts, a train ride, a giant inflatable playground and more. The West Jordan police and fire departments will participate in the party with activities for children and families.

In both the city and county library systems of Salt Lake, promotional material for the reading programs was available in both English and Spanish. An appreciation for diverse languages and cultures was apparent in the programming and in the dedication of the librarians to serving growing and diversifying communities.

Last month on my radio show “Sin Rodeos,” Juan Tomás Lee of the Utah State Library told a Spanish-language audience that libraries today are about much more than books. He and David Bird of the Kearns Library in the Salt Lake County system explained how libraries had adapted in an increasingly technological world to sustain themselves as resource centers, even places of entertainment in their communities.

The mission of Salt Lake’s county and city systems indicate dynamism:

County: “The mission of Salt Lake County Library Services is to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers by responsively providing materials, information and services at community libraries located throughout the Salt Lake Valley and/or via the internet.”

City: “The City Library is a dynamic civic resource that promotes free and open access to information, materials and services to all members of the community to advance knowledge, foster creativity, encourage the exchange of ideas, build community and enhance the quality of life.”

Liesl Johnson, the children’s services manager at the City Library, has talked about how parents and caregivers can help young children develop early literacy skills necessary to reading and writing. Some tips included conversation, singing and making learning fun. Liesl Johnson helps steer Utah Kids Ready to Read whose webpage suggests that parents and caregivers “talk to their children, share books with their children and bring their children to the library.”

Librarians and communities make libraries vibrant and inviting inside and out. Explore them this summer for the reading programs, the science, the entertainment, the computers and the views.

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Summer reading programs are available at library branches throughout the state. Photo by Mark Alvarez.
The Urban Room: the living room of the community. Photo by Mark Alvarez
The Urban Room: the living room of the community. Photo by Mark Alvarez.

The City Library has a spokespuppet Earl E. Literacy, who has numerous interviews of writers and artists recorded on The City Library’s YouTube channel. On May 1, Earl E. Literacy spoke about Fizz! Boom! Read!.

Librarians across Utah offer impressive resources and facilities for learning, fun and interaction. Don’t miss out in Ogden, Provo and Moab, home of the 2007 Library Journal’s Best Small Library in America. Make time to visit the outdoor sites next to or near these libraries.

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Les Roka
I am a native of Toledo, Ohio, having received my Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism in 2002. In addition to teaching at Utah State University and the University of Utah, I have worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations including a major metropolitan university, college of osteopathic medicine, and community college. When it comes to intellectual curiosity, I venture into as many areas as possible, whether it’s about music criticism, the history of journalism, the practice of public relations in a Web 2.0 world and the soon-to-arrive Web 3.0 landscape, or how public debates are formed about many issues especially in the political arena. As a Salt Lake City resident, I currently write and edit a blog called The Selective Echo that provides an entertaining, informative, and provocative look at Salt Lake City and its cosmopolitan best. I also have been the U.S. editorial advisor for an online publication Art Design Publicity based in The Netherlands. And, I use social media tools such as Twitter for blogging, networking with journalists and experts, and staying current on the latest trends in culture and news. I also have been a regular monthly contributor to a Utah business magazine, and I have recently conducted a variety of editing projects involving authors and researchers throughout the country and the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. I’m also a classically trained musician who spent more than 15 years in a string quartet, being involved in more than 400 performances.

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