Libraries aren't just places for books anymore. They're a place where kids can go to learn and have their minds stimulated through activities or get some help with math homework.
Capitol Hill librarian Jennifer Jones isn't afraid to think outside the box. The library has hosted events ranging from Read Like a Super Hero Day to book giveaways.
With two nearby elementary schools, Jones knows kids will naturally congregate at a library on weekday afternoons, so she wanted to make sure there was something to offer.
“A lot of our kids have parents who are working, and they don't have a lot to do after school,” Jones said. “They come here and hang out until their parents get them. We typically have a pretty good after-school crowd, and that's an opportunity for us.”
The tutoring program has been a success. Volunteer tutors are usually available four days a week, Jones said. They assist students with homework in all subjects, but special attention is given to reading.
“We've been doing it since September of 2011, and it's gone really well,” Jones said. “We've had some good people who have volunteered to tutor, and we of course are always looking for more people willing to help out.”
Staying relevant also means adapting to the needs of customers. Capitol Hill serves a large Hispanic population, and branch manager Jana Hausburg said the concept of a library is new to some. The branch has several Spanish speakers on staff.
“Many of our customers are renters and are very mobile and come and go throughout the year, so we have a challenge in educating them on what the library is all about,” Hausburg said.
“In Mexico and Central America, the concept of public libraries in communities is unfamiliar.”
Besides offering homework help, the library hosts a biweekly book club where kids read a book and then discuss it. Kids who stay in the program get free pizza. Also offered are a video game fest, reading to dogs and book giveaways, funded by a grant to the library.
The way Jones sees it, all are investments in a child's future. The only requirement is that they participate in the process.
“I think that's the purpose of our job, and it definitely matters to me,” Jones said. “I think this is a population that is underserved in many ways, but while we are here we might as well give them every opportunity available.”
at a glance
The Capitol Hill Library is at 334 SW 26 in Oklahoma City. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the Capitol Hill Library's programs, call 634-6308.