Yesterday I sent a nine-year-old boy home from the library with three juggling balls and four balloon animals. He and his babysitter had come to the library for our Wacky Wednesday program, and he was determined to learn how to juggle. We made juggling balls out of balloons and rice, and we went through the steps of juggling. Halfway through the program, we took a balloon animal break to make some giraffes, bunnies, and dogs. At the end of the program, the boy joked that his parents were going to think he’d been to the circus and not the library. I’d say it was a pretty awesome afternoon at the Essex Free Library.

But what do balloon animals and juggling balls have to do with books and the library? you might ask. Well, today’s libraries are so much more than just books. They are also active community centers. Just take a peek at your local library’s calendar of events. Your library likely offers a wide array of services, programs, and events for people of all ages. And good news! If you live in the Essex area, your library offers free juggling and balloon animal lessons!

The beauty of the public library is that its ultimate goal is to serve the community. Whether it’s for entertainment or education, creative librarians are always looking for ways to connect the library to the community. The idea of learning how to juggle drew this kid into the library, and I hope he will come again.

On another note, promoting literacy is always a major goal. It’s the reason many of us librarians do what we do. I believe that just being in a place of books can inspire a person to pick one up. Just getting people into the library brings them one step closer to becoming readers. In yesterday’s case I know that it did, because along with his three juggling balls and four balloon animals, the boy also carried home a book.

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