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Teaching through play at Hancock Libraries

Savannah Robbins, Hancock County’s children librarian, is doing a lot of planning for story times as well as scavenger hunts this summer.

“Every week it’s a different scavenger hunt,” said Robbins. “When kids finish the scavenger hunt they receive a finisher prize, which is a book. The first 25 kids get another finisher prize, which is a swim pass to the Windward Heights Country Club.”

Robbins works mostly with children; babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, all the way up to fifth grade students. “Story time is for five years and under and the scavenger hunts are fifth grade and under,” she said. “I do two story times a day on Mondays, and then next month in July it’s going to be on Wednesdays.” She rotates with her time between Hawesville and the Lewisport branch. Patrick Burk is the librarian for the teen age groups and like Robbins; he also rotates between the Hawesville and Lewisport branches.

Robbins says now that COVID is less of a threat; this is a great opportunity for her to meet children and their parents and let them really get to know her. Her goal is to establish relationships with parents, paving the path to be a “new era” children’s librarianship. “I feel like this is a chance for parents to bond with their children and learn awesome literacy tips,” she said. “Whenever I’m reading to the kids, I point out things in the book the parents can also do at home; like, what is this character doing? How does this character feel? What color is this? Stuff like that,” she said. Robbins explained story time is of course teaching moments, but it’s also fun.

“Kids learn through playing, making crafts, talking and singing: they don’t just learn through reading,” said Robbins. “We also play veterinarian activities, how to share and learning social skills. There are so many learning skills provided just by coming to story time. I’m excited to finally meet the kids and make new relationships; it’s wonderful finally being face to face. I love children, I always knew that whatever I did in life, I wanted to have a career helping kids.”


Master Gardeners is a program offered at the Hawesville branch. Susan Swihart, Neena Gaynor and Patty Lamar each have a garden out back of the library. In the pre-school story time group, the kids get to go out back and learn about gardening. They have an herb garden, a pollinating garden that has lavender and other flowers, and also a vegetable garden. “There are all kinds of fun at the library,” said Robbins. People don’t realize we’re a hopping place!”

The new Lewisport branch offers a genealogy room and two study rooms.

“The children have their own room and the teens have their own room; so instead of an open concept, they have their own spaces,” said Robbins. “When you’re at that age you kind of want your own space, something that feels like it’s dedicated to you, and they have their own computers in there too so if they want to game, they can game.”

For adults, the library has study rooms available and the book-a-librarian program. Librarian assistance is for helping with such things as: filling out a resume or anything on a computer, your Kindle, your iPad or with laptops. “We also offer ILLs, which is an “inter library loan,” said Robbins. “So if you need to order a book or movie from another library, we can do that as well.”

In July, the library will be offering programming. “Programming is basically events,“ Robbins said. “We’re going to be planning events at the libraries. We’ll come out with more information about that soon. This will be a lot of fun so be sure to watch out for this upcoming news!”

By Linda Dillon


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