Library events boost community

WINNEBAGO – Heidi Schutt has some ideas on how to get folks out of their homes and socializing during the winter months.

The first event is a lock-in for kids grades 6-8 from 7-9 p.m. Friday, while the adults get their turn with an after-hours event 7-9 p.m. Feb. 8, said Schutt, director of Winnebago’s Muir Library, which will host the events.

Schutt has hosted monthly story and craft times for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade and wanted to reach out to a new group. So, last summer, she invited kids in seventh through 12th grade for a get-together.

“They said, ‘You should do this in the winter,'” Schutt said. “The kids asked for it, so I’m doing my best to give them what they want.”

The event on Friday is the first to be held in winter.

“I’m excited to see how the first one goes,” Schutt said. “I really had fun with the kids who came in the summer. They were a fun group.”

She has already scheduled another lock-in in April.

“It’s called a lock-in, because we’re supposed to lock the doors so everyone is safe,” Schutt said, but the event is rather informal.

Anyone in grades 6-8 can come, no library card needed.

“As long as they have a parent permission slip, they can come,” she said. Permission slips are available at the library, school and on the library’s website.

Kids will be able to do a variety of things. Schutt has borrowed a Wii console from the Traverse de Sioux library system.

“Last summer, that was very popular,” she said.

Kids also will be able to “be on the computer, check out books, sit and talk with friends,” Schutt said. And food will be available, of course.

“As a winter activity, this is something that could go on for years and years,” Schutt said. “On a Friday night, you want to be with your friends. I hope the library can be that place.”

That holds true for the adult crowd too.

Schutt isn’t sure how long the adult after-hours event has been meeting – the closest anyone can guess is around 10 years – but she knows it is a success.

“We encourage any age of adults to come,” Schutt said. Participants range from the 20s into the 90s.

Four events are scheduled, starting in January – the one next week is the second, and the others are set for March and April. Between 15 and 25 people attend any given event.

“In January, we had 21 or 22; some who’d never come before,” Schutt said.

Activities vary, from board games – some from the library, some are brought by folks – games of cribbage, dominoes and Scrabble. There’s also a jigsaw puzzle to work, Schutt said.

“Lots of food,” she added.

The event runs from 7-9 p.m., but people don’t have to be punctual.

“Just come whenever you can,” Schutt said.

“It’s just a place to get together outside of your house,” she added. “Just a night of being with community members. You want to have fun on a Friday night.”