Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
We’re often caught up in the same daily routine. That’s why this year’s summer reading program at the Helen Matthes library featured the theme, “Escape the Ordinary.” This week the library held a cheese tasting event. The cheese comes from Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois, a family owned artisan and farmstead cheese creamery.
The cheese testing is “an opportunity to give our patrons a chance to try something new, and maybe haven’t tried before,” said the library’s marketing director, Catherine Bailey.
The library attempts to do a tasting event once every year. On Tuesday, it put out a table with a mixture of ordinary cheese and a couple that officials say visitors might not have tried before. They are the same cheeses used in salads and sandwiches at Joe Sippers Cafe, and can be purchased in Effingham at the Hodgson Mill Visitors Center.
There were five cheeses on display, starting with traditional White Cheddar. Others included:
It was all part of a series of more than 70 events at the Helen Matthes Library to encourage people to come out and enjoy reading. For the younger children, the events are oriented toward superheros. The kids can make superhero characters and masks, and experiment with robots.
For the adults, the idea is to schedule events that offer something new to try, such as tasting some different cheeses. Future events include constructing a “Worm Farm” to help turn family waste into useful compost. The event will be run by the U of I Extension Office on July 2 (Registration required).
Library officials say that all the activities people have during the summer sometimes put reading on the back burner.
The program is “aimed at children to avoid ‘summer slide’ during summer vacations,” said Bailey. “Kids forget a lot of things from school, when they go back to school in August, many of them lost a month or more of what their reading skill was at at the end of the year.”
Adults can benefit from extra encouragement to keep reading, too. Patrons can register at the library and, depending on their age, are given a reading log. Children up to a certain age are asked to read a certain amount of minutes depending on their age, five days a week. Parents log it and at end of week, and they can collect a reward.
Kids aged 10 to 12 are asked to write a little about the book they have been reading. Teenagers and adults earn rewards for various reading activities, such as access to the library’s digital library or some of the other services.
When readers finish their activities, they are all given weekly prizes and are entered in a raffle for an iPad mini, and gift cards to local businesses.
So far the program has 700 patrons registered that have read for a total of 22,700 minutes. To join, visit the Helen Matthes Library on 100 E Market Ave. Participants do not need a library card.