Library looks to help ‘Build a Better World’

6/1/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: June 2017

Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

This year, joining libraries across the country, Agawam Public Library will ask its patrons to think about what they can do to Build a Better World as part of the adult and children’s summer reading programs.

“Build a Better World is country-wide. We’ve tried to have a lot of our events go along with that theme,” explained Wendy McAnanama, adult programs coordinator.

Both programs kick off on June 26.

The adult summer reading program gets off to a running start with its popular annual READLocal event, which will feature 12 local authors who will be available to discuss, sell and sign copies of their works. Refreshments provided by Partners Restaurant will be served.

McAnanama said interest in the event has already been piqued.

“We have a display going on in June for all of the authors who donate books to the library as well as all of the authors from previous years,” she said. “We’ve had a bunch of the books go out already, which is really cool.”

This year’s authors include Darlene Blyth, Sadie Hartwell, Susan LaRosa, Josephine McNulty, Kathy & Gary Picard, P.J. Sharon, Bill Stamper, Sean Sweeney, H. Triplett, Melissa Volker and Lisa Zarcone.

With the chance to meet authors whetting appetites for reading, patrons can then participate in a slightly different reading program than in years past. While previously readers would post reviews of the book they’d read in the library in order to enter drawings for prizes, this year, when you check out a book using your library card, you’ll receive a scratch ticket, which is guaranteed to be a winner.

“Given what our theme is this year and the state of our country, we’ve decided everyone is going to win,” McAnanama said. “It could be anything from a piece of candy to a T-shirt. We have a bunch of different prizes.”

When the scratch ticket is redeemed for a prize, it is also entered into a weekly raffle for a $25 gift card.

Unlike some summer reading programs or book clubs, there is no assigned reading list.

“As long as you’re reading, we’re happy,” McAnanama said.

Adults also have the chance to win a $100 gift card by picking up the Building a Better World Bingo card, giving them the opportunity to win five times by completing tasks, which range from reading a book with a blue cover to writing a letter to a friend or family member.

In addition to opportunity to win through reading, adult can participate in a number of events throughout the summer, which aim to make the world a better place through everything from education to crafting to ice cream.  

One of the new programs this year will be “Build a Better World Through Storytime,” which takes place Fridays, June 30 to Aug. 4, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

“We’re going to hold storytimes for adults on Fridays and we’re going to read aloud,” McAnanama said. “Bring your lunch, we’re going to read to you, and if you finish your lunch, you’ll get dessert.”

The library will also take a multi-pronged approach to genealogy, which has become an increasingly popular topic. “Build a Better World by Preserving Your Story” will be a two-part program co-hosted by Maureen Shepard, a local expert on creative memory scrapbooking and Adult Services Librarian Cher Collins, who has conducted programs on preservation of genealogical data digitally. The first part of the program, which will take place July 18 at 7 p.m., will expose people to both.

“Maureen focuses on the journaling part of it because 50 years later, someone could look at a scrapbook and say, ‘Oh, that’s a nice picture,’ but not have any idea what the story is behind it,” McAnanama said. “Cher will explain some of the ways you can preserve your information online.”

For the second portion on July 31 at 6:30 p.m., participants will be choose between journaling and scrapbooking or digital and get to work on preserving their “story.”

Many events require registration. For more information, visit or call 789-1550, ext. 4.

The children’s summer reading program is broken up into age-appropriate groups – one for children in grade 4 and younger, one for those in grades 5 to 8 and one for high school-age children – and the library is focusing strongly on the “building” portion of the “Build a Better World” theme, according to Youth Services Librarian Pamela Weingart.

“With the Build a Better World theme, in the Children’s Department, we’re defining it in many different ways,” she said. “For instance, we’ll have a program called ‘Build a Better Garden’ for ages 3 through 5 where the kids will learn about gardening and ways to foster their own gardens, but also for the older kids we’ll have cupcake decorating events, where we’re going to build a better cupcake. We’ll also have Lego activities going on here at the library.”

In order to attend most events, children must be registered in advance to ensure there are enough materials.

To find events appropriate for children in grades 4 and under, visit the Children’s section of the Agawam Library’s website at For all other levels, visit the Teen section at

Children will also have the opportunity to help the library build a “tower of readers.”

“This year we’re going to build a tower of readers where the kids who participate are going to have a chance to write their name on something that looks like the spine of a book and then we’re going to put them on top of each other so it looks like a tower of books,” Weingart explained. “That will be on display here at the library and it will show the strong community support for the summer reading program and the kids get to see their names up on the wall.”

That program will be in addition to the summer reading log. While the events for the summer reading program are different depending on age level, all children can use a reading log to track their time spend reading in order to earn prizes.

“We don’t have specific reading lists. We would be happy to help people find books that would be right for them. Since so many people read at different reading levels, we don’t want to assign specific books,” Weingart said. “However, this year we will have the kids keep track of the amount of time reading so that way we could measure at the end of the summer, for instance, if the kindergarten kids read a total of 1,000 hours or something spectacular like that.”

Programming, Weingart noted, would aslo focus “not just on books, but all different kinds of literacy.” As part of the reading log, the library is also hosting a reading challenge for children with the opportunity to win prizes if they accomplish certain goals.

“We’re giving the kids six different activities they can do,” Weingart explained. “If they complete three of them, they get a little prize. It’s things like ‘read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you,’ or ‘read a book in a format you don’t usually read, like a graphic novel or an audio book.’ This way the kids can broaden their horizons and try things they normally wouldn’t try.”

Registration for the reading log can be found on the Agawam Library website. Once registered, children can pick up their reading logs in the Children’s Room.

Share this: