Patrons expecting quiet at the Shadle Library last Thursday were in for a surprise. The shrill call of bagpipes and the rattle of a drum shattered the soft murmur of muted voices and the rustle of turning pages.
Two members of the Angus Scott Pipe Band, and two Highland dancers thrilled a room full of children with the traditional music and dance of Scotland. The group has proved to be a popular part of Spokane Public Libraries’ summer reading program.
Sally Chilson, youth services coordinator, said, “They’ve been really well received because they are really loud.”
Indeed, several children clapped their hands over their ears as bagpiper Jenel Thew launched into a spirited rendition of “Scotland the Brave.” But even the baseball-capped boys in the front row appeared enthralled by the music.
Drummer Kenyon Fields entertained the kids with Scottish lore and history, and his daughters, Emily and Anne performed several Highland dances. When Fields asked the kids in the audience if any of them danced, one little boy raised his hand. “I do,” he said. “But mainly when the TV is on.”
The dancing inspired a pink-skirted toddler to do a few steps of her own. She twirled in slow circles while Anne Fields danced the Sailor’s Hornpipe.
Chilson said magician Dick Frost has been another popular attraction at local libraries. “The children in the audience provide some interesting opportunities,” she said, laughing.
Spokane Public Libraries have seen a dramatic increase in attendance. Last week summer reading program attendance was 2,769. The total attendance for 2009 was 2,480. “The economy has people looking for free stuff do with their kids,” said Chilson.
While the city’s summer reading program concludes this week, Spokane County Library will continue their programs into August. “We’re doing a couple of craft programs that we haven’t done before,” said Gwendolyn Haley, youth services manager at the North Spokane branch.
In keeping with this year’s Make a Splash theme, county libraries will be hosting several Sink or Float activities. “Kids will make their own boat and predict whether it will sink or float,” Haley said.
In addition, county libraries are offering some programs specifically for older kids. Haley said staffers are gearing up for two Late Night at the Library events.
The libraries will open after hours for kids going into grades 3 to 5. Pre-registration and signed permission slips are required. Games, crafts, stories and snacks are planned.
Of course, the kids will also be encouraged to browse for books. “This is the best time of year for us at the library,” Haley said.