For the first time since 2019, the West Bloomfield Township Public Library is set to hold a summer reading kickoff event. Local residents are pictured at a previous event.

For the first time since 2019, the West Bloomfield Township Public Library is set to hold a summer reading kickoff event. Local residents are pictured at a previous event.

Photo provided by Julie Moore

West Bloomfield Library set to return to in-person events after more than two years

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 8, 2022


WEST BLOOMFIELD — In a press release, West Bloomfield Township Public Library Director Cathy Russ recently stated that, “This summer will look a little more like what library visitors were used to seeing before the pandemic.”

After more than two years, the library is bringing back in-person programs and reopening play spaces.

Of the multiple events that have been planned, Assistant Library Director Jeff Crocker discussed the one he believes community members are the most excited about.

“The biggest thing coming back is our kick-off event. I think that’s the one people are waiting for,” he said. “That’s the one, I think, (that) is probably the most exciting — to get all the kids and families back here, on-site, to kick off summer reading. I think we’re probably most looking forward to that.”

The library’s in-person summer program series begins June 11 with a summer reading kickoff 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Main Library grounds.

The kickoff is for people of all ages, with circus skills, a petting zoo, inflatable obstacle courses,  a mobile video game truck, a phone booth and DJ all part of the agenda.

No registration is required to attend.

“We can have songs, dances and a lot of fun that day,” said Early Childhood Specialist Julie Moore.

Moore shared some of the benefits of returning to in-person programs.

“It’s a chance for us to regain our trust with the community, talk with the community, (and) involve ourselves with the community so that they can take part and see what we’re all about,” she said. “We know that there’s been a lot of change and turnover in the community in two years too, so this might be a new event for some people. … They get the opportunity to see what we do here at the library and how much it benefits their children in the community as well.”

Both parents and children also have something else to look forward to this summer.

“We’ll be bringing back story time this summer, so I know a lot of people are looking forward to that as a whole,” Moore said. “We’ll have two options … the in-building option, as well as an outdoor option.”

Crocker provided some insight as to what community members can expect with this year’s version of the summer reading program.

“The summer reading program always has a theme, and this year’s theme is ‘Oceans of Possibilities,’” he said. “Summer reading programs in libraries around the state — a lot of them try to use the same theme each summer. ‘Oceans of Possibilities’ is the big theme in libraries this summer, so a lot of the programming is kind of ocean-themed.”

Concerts, puppet shows, crafting events and ukulele lessons are also among the many events that have been scheduled this summer.

“Most of the programs that are in-person are outside, and a lot of them are next door at the Recreation Activities Center Parks building,” Crocker said. “We’re trying to share resources and do some outdoor summer programming.”

Individuals with an artistic flare also have something to look forward to this summer, as a Tiny Art Painting Kit will be available to people of all ages who have a valid West Bloomfield Library card from July 18-Aug. 17, or while supplies last.

Kits submitted by residents may be included in the library’s Tiny Art Exhibition Aug. 22-Sept. 16 at the Main Library.

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 18.

Residents can speak with a library staff member or visit to register for a kit when they become available.

There is a limit of five projects per library card.

“It’s like a tiny little canvas for you to paint anything,” Crocker said. “And then towards the end of summer you’d be able, if you want, to have it displayed here. You’ll be able to turn them in and we’ll have them on exhibit. … People will be able to show off their tiny canvases.”

Although in-person events will be returning for the first time in more than two years, Moore pointed out that the library has already been “open and operating.”

She shared details of something else that made a recent return.

“In the youth room, we did bring back all of our toys, back in March. Our specific early learning areas are back and available for play, which include a lego table, a light table, a dramatic-play kitchen area — that stuff came back in March,” Moore said. “We also have toys that children are able to check out and play with while they’re here at the library.”

Adults have also been included in the library’s return to normal activities.

“Families are able to hang out again, be in the space,” Moore said. “Adults can use computers and do their work, check out the study rooms. Pretty much that stuff has all come back steadily throughout the past two years.”

From Moore’s perspective, a return to in-person events is the last big step required to feel like things have returned to normal at the library, and the kick-off scheduled June 11 has been on her mind.

“Every year we kick off summer reading with a big party, but this year’s extra special, between kicking off summer reading and kicking off that return to normal,” she said.

Crocker said he wants to “see the community in the building,” and that is what excites him the most about returning to in-person programming.

“I’ve worked here a really long time; I’m used to crowds and I’m used to being proud of seeing a full parking lot … seeing kids all over the youth department and that kind of thing,” he said. “It’s been a gradual increase in people. … I think starting to do more programming on-site here is going to bring more people in.”

Moore believes the library will have a ready-and-waiting public when in-person events return.

“They’ve been asking, and they are ready,” she said. “Just the news that we’re going to be doing outdoors and in-person story times and full programs this summer has trickled through, and people are really looking forward to it. They are excited.”

It isn’t just the public that is longing for a return to in-person programming.

“We know people are ready to be back and we’re ready for them to be back,” Crocker said. “We’re looking forward to it. Hopefully, this is (going to) be one of the better summer reading programs that we’ve had in recent years.”

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