Musser Public Library wraps up successful summer of reading

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In June and July, the Musser Public Library welcomed children and teens to explore the world around them in new ways through their Off the Beaten Path summer reading program. Their first fully in person summer reading program since 2019, librarians and patrons alike welcomed the chance to connect through reading and shared learning experiences.

Looking back over the library’s many weekly events, Youth Services Manager Betty Collins found that kids enjoyed chances to try something new. She believed the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium’s visit with their touch tank proved the most popular. However, the big truck petting zoo, featuring large vehicles from the City of Muscatine and FFA animals raised by Muscatine High School students, came in a very close second. “It’s so much fun to see kids get up close and personal with some of the big trucks they so look forward to seeing on the street,” she beamed.

Collins also welcomed the opportunity to bring in many different groups and individuals from Muscatine and around eastern Iowa, such as the Bayer Outreach Team, Muscatine County Conservation, and the the Iowa Children’s Museum. Personally, Collins especial valued getting to work with Duffy DeFrance to make candy wrapper collages, as DeFrance, who previously served as the children’s librarian, helped Collins take on that role. “She’s been a huge mentor for me and I have so much respect for her,” Collins said fondly.

To cap off this year’s summer reading experience, the Musser Public Library held its People Powered Parade Saturday Aug. 30. Any local kids who wanted to participate could stop out to the library’s parking lot to get a stylish bubble hairdo from Rick Brammer, who has come to the library before to put on bubble shows. Once everyone had gotten all decked out, they marched up and down Cedar Street, accompanied by cyclists on traditional and electric bicycles from Harper’s Cycling and Fitness. Following the parade, kids enjoyed free Sqwincher Squeeze freezer pops courtesy of KENT Corporation. Any children who had not picked up all their summer reading prizes also had the chance to get them then.

Reflecting back on this year’s summer reading program, Collins felt encouraged that 700 kids and teens enrolled in the summer reading program. This number represented a return to the sort of numbers seen before the pandemic, which led to a reduction in participation over the last two years. “It’s just been a great summer, and it feels good to be back in the swing of things,” she glowed.

Regular programming for children and teens will return to the Musser Public Library in September. Until then, Collins encourages children and teens to keep reading and enjoying all the libraries materials by checking out books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, video games, and the library’s many online resources.

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