John F. Kennedy Jr. Library welcomes residents to open house from Press and Guide
September 28, 2021
By Sue Suchyta, Press & Guide
From crafts to COVID-19 shots, Dearborn Heights’ John F. Kennedy Jr. Library hosted a Sept. 25 open house, and did double duty, with the power out at Caroline Kennedy Library.
John F. Kennedy Jr. Library, 24602 Van Born Road, serves the south end of Dearborn Heights, with Caroline Kennedy Library, 24590 George Ave., focusing on residents in the northern section of the city.
Branch librarian Carolyn Smith said the open house featured a book sale, crafts for children, and database and drone demonstrations.
She said city Treasurer Lisa Hicks-Clayton shared information about the new property tax and water bill-paying kiosks from DivDat, and that a medical mobile unit from Wayne Health, through Wayne State University, was on hand to provide health screenings and COVID-19 vaccinations.
She said she was pleased to see so many people attending the open house.
“I love it – it’s amazing,” Smith said. “We do not get a lot of people in our library. We are often forgotten down here in the south end, so it is wonderful that we have so many people here.”
She said the library has mobile Wi-Fi hot spots for people to check out, for those who don’t have Internet access at home, and the library has 12 computers available for adults to use, and eight computers for children.
“What we find is most people need our computers to access Unemployment (Insurance Agency), and for FEMA applications,” Smith said. “We also do a lot of help with elderly people doing their first-time emails, because everybody needs to have an email address now to apply for everything.”
She said a lot of people come into the library to use the fax machine, as well.
“For the most part, besides our everyday patrons that come in, checking out materials, we get a lot of requests for help on computers, for everyday applications,” Smith said.
She said that Caroline Kennedy Library has an Arabic language book collection, and the John F. Kennedy Jr. Library recently received a grant which will allow it to start a collection of Arabic and Spanish bilingual children’s books, which will allow parents to read to their children and help reinforce their native language at home.
Smith said they have a resource area for parents to find books to read to their children, at different age levels, with librarian recommendations, to help support the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” initiative.
“We have ongoing craft programs all the time, and you can come in and get craft kits to go, through our ‘Art from the Heart’ series, which is ongoing, and we have story time starting back up soon,” she said. “We have just started back with in-person programming again, and a lot of our programs will take place at Caroline Kennedy, because they have the bigger facility and can socially distance a little better, but we are hoping to get some of those programs back here really soon.”
Smith said it is wonderful to see their patrons back inside the library after the long COVID closure.
“We say we smile with our eyes now,” she said, referring to the face masks they wear. “A lot of our regulars are just starting to feel comfortable coming back in, and it is wonderful to see them, and the kids.”
Children’s Librarian Christine Fischer, whose own children were enjoying computer and craft time, said children enjoy access to learning games, movies, audiobooks and e-books at the library.
“Those are available for everybody that holds a library card,” she said. “Today we are checking out some video games, graphic novels and movies.”
Fischer said the library has something for everybody.
“We have delivery services, curbside pickup is still available, we have databases for the kids that may be learning from home, and downloading movies from home, and there are no additional charges,” she said.
Youth Services Librarian Jim Moir, who was presiding over the youth craft area, said their art activities during the open house were inspired by two children’s books.
The first, Bob Raczka’s “Niko Draws a Feeling,” illustrated by Simone Shin, is about a little boy who makes drawings based on feelings that are misunderstood by others until a new girl moves to his neighborhood whose art reflects feelings, as well.
“So, we figured we’d give people a chance to paint a feeling,” Moir said. “So, we are making these tiles, and we are going to make it into a big mosaic.”
He said the second book, Eric Carle’s “I See a Song,” tells about a musician who paints a picture with music.
“We made bookmarks, and the kids can use their fingerprints and make a beautiful musical score,” Moir said. “We want to connect art and music and reading all into one big theme. I think the kids are having a good time with it.”
Family and School Services Librarian A.J. Wyatt-Greene said it was wonderful to have the library open again and to see so many friendly faces.
“We’ve missed everyone so much, and it’s just really great to see everyone here today,” she said.
Wyatt-Greene said the city is lucky to have two wonderful libraries, and with the power out at the Caroline Kennedy Library during the open house, patrons were given an opportunity to discover the John F. Kennedy Jr. Library.
“Hopefully, people had a chance to explore, and find out a little more about us, and connect with some services,” she said.
Moir said they are launching a program called Great Crates that will bring a box of 30 grade-appropriate books per month into classrooms for students to read in the Crestwood, District 7 and Westwood school districts.
Wyatt-Greene said COVID-19 interrupted its original launch, but any classroom in the city that is willing to sign up will have the books delivered and picked up, can do so and the teacher will have access to all of the library’s database resources.
She said parents will now have the opportunity to sign up for their children’s library cards online at dhcl.michlibrary.org/dearborn-heights-libraries-e-card-registration and if their children attend Crestwood, District 7 or the Westwood school district, the library cards will be delivered to the students through their school.
“That way, if parents are not able to get to our building, or are facing transportation insecurity, students can still make sure they are getting that library card and access to library resources,” Wyatt-Greene said. “They can use all of our wonderful e-resources, especially things like Tumble Books, Hoopla, and books online, and if they live in Dearborn Heights, they can participate in our home delivery program, which will bring books right to them.”
Tumblebooks is a curated database of children’s e-books, available by subscription to elementary schools and public libraries, while Hoopla is a digital media service offered by local public libraries that allows people to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, e-books, comics and television shows to enjoy on a computer, tablet, phone or television.
There is no charge for delivery of library materials to the homes of Dearborn Heights residents.
Moir said the library no longer charges fines for overdue materials, and one is only charged if an item is actually lost.
“We want to encourage the families to not worry about that,” Moir said.
Wyatt-Greene said all old, overdue fines, especially for children’s books, have been erased.
“If there were fines that were stopping you from coming back to the library and getting your card renewed, those fines are gone, and you get a fresh start,” she said. “I am trying to make sure that families know that there is not a barrier to access. We just want you to use the library.”
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