The was the place to be Sunday as approximately 2,400 visitors helped kick off the “Dream Big Read” summer reading program.
By 12:30 p.m., patrons filled the lobby and were lined up out the door waiting for the library to open.
“It’s a big day for the library and the community. It's our busiest day of the year,” said Leslee Niethammer, Director of the Saline District Library.
About two-thirds of the library staff was on hand during the four hours the library was open Sunday.
During that time, nearly 600 people—100 more than during last year's event—were signed up for the summer reading program. The library staff expects many more, as sign up continues until the deadline, Aug. 10.
Katie Mitchell, reference and teen librarian, said lthere were well over 1,000 registered with the program last year. A majority of the people registered are in the youth program, for kids up to 12. Within that program there are several branches, including one designed for parents and babies.
Jen Burt registered her children, Gavin and Bailey.
“It’s a good program. You want to make sure your children stay on top of things and are reading for school next year,” she said.
There are also programs for teenagers and adults.
Mitchell said the program owed its success to parents like Burt.
“The community of Saline is very supportive of library programs because people here place a value on literacy and life-long learning,” she said. “People want their children to learn all year around so they are ready to go when school starts again.”
Staff from the library visit every school in the district before summer break to let kids know what programs are available. People enrolled in the program earn prizes for reading books.
The Saline District Library kicks off the program each year with a celebration. This year, the New Horizons Band performed music. The Saline Lions gave away 33 gallons of ice cream. Kids contributed art that will be used in an art installation. There were puppet shows, crafts and many more activities.
There were, of course, books to check out. Sunday, the members of the community checked out 1,670 books, movies, and magazines in just four hours. The library issued 35 new library cards — about 25 more than on a normal day.
On Monday, Niethammer said she was pleased with the kickoff.
“We are happy. People are still signing up today, but it’s much less frantic. People can sign up all summer long. So you should, too!” Niethammer said.