By Tim Leeds
Cosmic encounters were at the Havre-Hill County Library Wednesday, kicking off the summer reading program.
The Friends of the Library have rented a planetarium from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, which was set up in the library meeting room Wednesday and will remain there through Saturday.
Bonnie Williamson, head librarian, was busy from 10 a.m. on as parents and children clustered around the table to register for the program, then moved to the planetarium. Williamson said they try to bring something related to the theme of the program every year. Since this year's theme is "Cosmic Encounters in the Library," she said the planetarium was the best they could find.
The planetarium was open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be open today, tomorrow and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Volunteers from AmeriCorps will take children through the planetarium, as well as helping with the storytime every Wednesday this summer and with other summer activities. Bob Soper, who will talk about stargazing at the library later this summer, guided children through the planetarium from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday. John Kandelin of the Montana State University-Northern science department has loaned the library resources, such as globes of the moon and of the constellations, posters and videos.
Williamson said they have invited some daycare groups to go through the planetarium today, and that anyone interested in going through the planetarium is welcome to come in through Saturday.
She said they have been doing the summer reading program at the library at least since 1982, when she started there. Williamson said it is very successful program, usually registering 300-400 children. She said last year they checked out more than 10,000 children's books during the program. There were already 39 children registered, and many of them going through the planetarium, half-an-hour after the registration started at 10 a.m.
The purpose of the program is to encourage children to read. A reading record will be sent home with children enrolled to record the time spent reading books checked out from the library. Every time the children come to the library, they will record their hours and minutes on their registration form at the desk.
Incentives will be awarded to children throughout the summer in three categories. For toddler to second-grade, one prize will be awarded for every 100 minutes of reading. For third- to fourth-grades, one prize will be awarded for every 10 hours of reading. For fifth- through ninth-grades, one prize will be awarded for every 12 hours of reading.
The children in each category with the most hours and minutes of reading at the end, July 26, will receive grand prizes. The last day to register is July 21.
Library cards must be clear of overdue materials to participate in the program.
Other upcoming events at the library include story time, with crafts, activities and stories every Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.; Bob Soper talking about stargazing, storytelling with Bill Chambers, and the Annual Bug Race. Watch for dates and times of these and other events.