HOUGHTON - Summer can be a busy time for families with camping, travel and guests coming by, but some local libraries are working to lure patrons in with special summer programs.
Chris Alquist, community programs director for the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, said the library's summer reading program, which started June 9 and ends Aug. 18, this year has a theme of "Dream Big," which is rather expansive.
"It can be anything, so it is," she said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Chris Alquist, community programs director for the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton demonstrates the 4.5-inch telescope the library has for check out as part of its summer programs. Other science kits are available for check out, also.
Alquist said the reading program is broken down into age categories and number of books to be read or read to each participant: Adults must read, have books read to them or listen to four books, magazines or audio books; young adults, 10 books; juvenile, 12 books; and pre- or early readers, 35 books. Readers keep track of what they've read, had read to them or heard on a form supplied by the library.
The program is quite popular, Alquist said.
"So far, we have almost 750 people signed up for the summer reading program," she said.
There are prizes for the patrons who read or hear the most books in each age category, Alquist said. First place is the winners' choice of a book from the library.
"They can pick out any book they want, and keep it," she said.
Second prize is an ice cream cone from the Lunch Bag restaurant in Houghton. Those who are gluten intolerant can get the ice cream in a dish. Third prize is an all-day pass to the Michigan Technological University Student Development Complex.
Although the official deadline for the reading program is Aug. 18, Alquist said there could be some leeway there.
"I want people to finish," she said.
Because the theme of Dream Big is so broad, Alquist said there is no strict guideline for what to read.
"This is summer," she said. "Read what you want."
Another summer program at the PLDL is one they call Science Myself, Alquist said. Young people from age 5 to high school can check out various kits, including microscope and biology lab, electronic lab, static electricity generator, alternative energy, laser pegs, bug kits, straw rocket launcher, and boats and buoyancy.
"They can check them out for three weeks," Alquist said of the science kits.
One of the kits which Alquist thinks will be popular is a telescope with 4.5-inch lens. Before it can be checked out, however, Tech astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff will give a seminar on its use.
There are limitations to the use of the telescope, Alquist said.
"An adult has to carry it out," she said. "It has to be seat belted in the car."
There will be a nighttime astronomy class this fall, also, Alquist said.
The telescope was purchased by the Friends of the Portage Lake District Library, Alquist said. The other kits were purchased with a grant from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Chicago.
At the Calumet Public School Library, the Herman "Winks" Gundlach and Good Will Farm Read to Ride program is nearing its end with a deadline of July 30, according to library Director Patty Hale. For each book children 6 to 14 years old read, they get one chance for a drawing to win a bicycle.
"There's a minimum of 20 bikes," Hale said.
The CPSL is working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the Park & Read program, Hale said.
"This provides a one-day pass to use the (state) parks," she said.
Patrons use their library cards to check out a pass, Hale said.
"That is a great service," she said.
Once in the park, Hale said the DNR is providing a cozy place to read.
"They have hammocks there and you can read a book," she said.
The CPSL is featuring authors this summer, also, Hale said. At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lon Emerick will discuss and sign copies of his book, "Paradise North: Seasons in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan."
There are eight new public-use computers in the library, Hale said, for a total of 23. The computers can be used by members with their library card, or a guest pass can be purchased for $1.
At the Ontonagon Township Library in Ontonagon, librarian and the person in charge of children's program setup Laura LeHaie, said the summer reading program there is Science Can Be Fun, with locations throughout the library.
"We set up different stations," she said.
At one of the stations, for example, LeHaie said there is a demonstration and explanation of how a pin can penetrate a balloon without popping it.
Ontonagon Area Junior-Senior High School science teacher Jim Waters helped students set up a battery-powered generator, LeHaie said.
The science displays have been popular with patrons, LeHaie said.
"We had over a hundred people come through," she said.
The children who take part in the program will get a book when it ends Aug. 11, and something, else, too.
"We have a little party for those who attend," she said.
Special guest readers are at the library during the summer, LeHaie said. They include a member of the Michigan State Police, a firefighter, a weather watcher, an emergency medical technician, a diabetic technician and a beekeeper.
The guest reader program is popular, also, LeHaie said.
"It's worked real well," she said.