Children who enter the Archbold Community Library are usually greeted with a cheery, “Hi! How are you doing today? Have you met my friend, Elvis?” as Miss Martie welcomes them to her domain.
Elvis the rooster puppet resides on the corner of Martie Yunker’s desk and serves as an ice-breaker for the new childrens librarian to meet her charges.
Yunker joined the library staff in September 2018. She brings 11 years of experience from her previous position as childrens librarian at Evergreen Community Library.
She holds an elementary education degree from Bowling Green State University, and has additional training in the Ohio Readyto Read Initiative.
Some childrens programs at the library are very familiar, but Yunker has breathed new life into them.
“We have two Story Times for two-year-olds, and four Story Hours for ages 3-5. That’s every week,” Yunker said.
“We have two Lego Clubs. We originally started out with one Lego Club a month, and we had to split the grade levels because there were so many children coming.”
Legos, of course, are the interlocking plastic building blocks that have been a favorite toy for decades.
“That’s a good problem to have, so now, every month she does two Lego Clubs. Kindergarten and first grade come once a month, and then the second through fifth graders come,” said Sonya Huser, library director.
“We have a reading club. It’s called ‘Remarkable Readers’ for grades 5 through 8. We just switched over– ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ is our next book,” Yunker said.
Planning season for the Summer Reading program at the library has begun. Yunker has also done some one-time programs for children, including Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Party and a celebration of Children’s Book Week on May 4 called “Underwater Adventures.”
To kick off the Summer Reading program, Chip Richter will perform in concert Tuesday, June 11, at the library.
Richter is a well-known, award-winning singer/songwriter who performs “Music for Kids & Families.”
“She (Yunker) has got weekly things, she’s got monthly things, and then she has these other things here and there, sprinkled in once in a while,” Huser said.
“The children are the best part of the job,” Yunker said, “because you get to be a child’s first teacher.
“They come when they are 2 with their parents, and then they graduate into Story Hour. That’s just so much fun.”
“I have learned a lot from the staff. It was a challenge for me, coming from Evergreen, because I had so many new things to learn.
“But everybody’s been so patient with me. It’s been great.
“The children make the day go by! We have an hour of Story Hour. We do a craft, we sing, we sometimes have a snack.”
“I’ve watched you do some things that I wish I had done when I was a childrens librarian,” Huser said.
Yunker is working with the Friends of the Library group to implement a “Makers Space” at the library.
This space is primarily for middle school students and will include a focus on STEAM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).
“They’ve put A back in, because you can’t be creative without the arts,” Huser said. “I just read some book reviews for why architects need to get back to the literal drawing board and draw with their hands. They’re realizing that art is necessary for creativity.”
“It just offers opportunities for them to build and explore and create. There might be robotics in it. We don’t know yet. It just depends on the limits of the budget, and the physical space itself,” Yunker said.
The middle schoolers are “already here (after school). They’re here every day. We just need something for them to do besides just sit and wait for their rides,” Huser said.
“The library has been very generous. They’ve let me purchase many manipulatives (things children can handle and manipulate) and CDs– things that make stories come to life,” Yunker said.
The Every Child Ready to Read program lays out the five best practices for preschool students.
“They’re ‘Sing, Talk, Read, Write and Play.’ Those five practices should be used every day with preschoolers,” Yunker said.
“I think we do that.”