When the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon called Nancy Anderson to see if the Sutherlin library would be interested in hosting a presentation, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity for us,” Anderson said. “It’s great for the kids to see the displays from the museum that might otherwise be hard for them to get to and also to just learn about the different types of rocks and rock cycles in a fun, engaging way.”
Now, in its third year, the museum’s community outreach program visits communities all over the state, providing presentations and activities tailored to family audiences.
Each year, it adapts its materials to coincide with the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s reading theme. This year, the theme is “Libraries Rock.” The program followed suit by introducing “Oregon Rocks!,” which the museum’s website describes as “a geology adventure” meant to “explore our ever-changing Earth.”
More than two dozen children of various ages settled on the floor near the front of the C. Giles Hunt Memorial Library’s meeting room as many adults claimed the chairs at the back of the room, lined the walls and overflowed into the hallway.
Lydia Borowicz, who recently graduated from the University of Oregon with her master’s degree, began her presentation by reading “An Island Grows” by Lola M. Schaefer.
As the name might suggest, the book describes the birth of an island. Borowicz helped relate the story to her audience by explaining how the same process helped form Oregon. The audience connected by participating in various interactive activities placed around the room.
“(This program) is really meant to be interactive for really tiny kids, up through middle school,” Borowicz said. “Although high school students enjoy it too, they just don’t want to admit it.”
Kids crowded around a sand station that visually demonstrated the formation of sedimentary rock. Others followed dots on the floor to different stations representing the rock cycle, gathering colored beads to create bracelets they could take home. Structures were built on platforms that could be shaken to symbolize an earthquake. Several other stations filled the room, providing an educational experience for all.
Sutherlin Mayor Todd McKnight brought his two daughters, Lexie and Kelsie, to support the library and to provide an experience that would tie in learning and fun. Both girls participated in other library activities. McKnight tried to foster what they learned by discussing it at home.
“They tell me all about it,” McKnight said. “I try to interact with them to help make it stick.”
Lexie, an 8-year-old that will be going into third grade this year, said her favorite subject in school is science.
“I like doing the experiments,” she said.
Both McKnight sisters favored the sand station, especially being able to combine the different colors into a rainbow. Lexie liked that the library gives her the opportunity to read some of her favorite books.
“One of the things we really try to do is make the library a fun, interesting place to come,” she said.
Sutherlin Library Foundation Board Chairman Rick Troxel said Anderson worked hard to create programs that would make the library a place to learn, not just from books.
“It’s not just about books,” Troxel said. “It’s a meeting place and a place to learn in the city for people of all ages.”
The point, Anderson said, is to get children to make things and help them learn subjects they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore. Oregon Rocks, she said, is a great example.