SWEET HOME — All families within the Sweet Home School District's boundaries will be able to get a library card for free for the summer months, the City Council decided Tuesday evening.

Also, all kids will have their late book/materials fees forgiven.

Library Director Rose Peda told council members that the goals are to eliminate barriers to getting books in the summer for children and to help them retain their reading acuity when school's out. She hopes the effort will reduce the “summer slide," when students' reading abilities decrease over the period.

A book card costs $35 per family per year. Peda said cards are free for city residents, but the library actually serves the entire Sweet Home School District. There are about 9,000 residents in the city and about 17,000 in the district.

Peda said the library’s Summer Reading Program has been extremely successful. Last year, 384 elementary-school-aged children were involved, many of whom live outside the actual city limits.

Late book fees also discourage children from checking out books in the summer, Peda aid.

“The threat of accumulating fines on overdue materials and fees associated with getting an out-of-city library card are keeping low-income families away from the library, or from checking out items to take home,” she noted in an overview. “Whether the intended function of library fines is to encourage the prompt return of materials, to supplement the library budget, or to teach patrons responsibility, fines on children’s materials can negatively affect the borrowing habits of members in our community who need the library the most.”

In her monthly report, Peda also noted that patrons checked out 3,228 items in May, staff issued 24 new library cards to city residents and seven to non-residents. Some 461 persons signed on to use library computers and printed 1,015 pages.

The Summer Reading Program begins Saturday, with Rhys Thomas JuggleMania at 11 a.m. at Sankey Park, 1 p.m. at Northside Park and 3 p.m. at Wiley Creek Park. Other programs start at 10 a.m. at the Boys & Girls Club, 880 18th Ave.

Events include: June 26: "Science Tellers/Aliens Escape from Earth"; July 3: "Museum of Natural & Cultural History — Our Place in Space"; July 10: "Eugene Science Center — a Universe of Science"; July 17: "Mad Science — Explore the Science of Space"; July 24: "Curt Carlyle — the Curt Show"; August 7: "Traveling Lantern — My Mother the Astronaut"; August 13: OMSI.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.


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