The Christopher Public Library had a very successful summer reading program this year.
There were six sessions held for youngsters with more than 300 kids attending programs including "Klassics for Kids" from the Southern Illinois Music Festival at SIU.
In addition, there were visits from presenters including the Rend Lake Corps of Engineers, the WSIU Reading Readiness Program and the Science Center of Southern Illinois.
On July 13, the Christopher Fire Department visited the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall near the library to show kids what firefighters do and impress upon them some elements of safety and actions to take if they should be involved in a fire.
Besides getting good information on how to be safe, the kids got the opportunity to see firefighter gear, try some on and even watch Christopher Library Director Janice Briley put on a full set of gear herself. Briley said she was very pleased with the attendance and interest from the kids and their adult mentors.
Briley also appreciates the great support the facility has received from Mayor Gary Bartolotti, the city council and the library board made up of volunteers from the community. Briley was quick to thank those that helped with the kids in the sessions, and especially the kids themselves for attending.
The Busy Bee Early Learning Center regularly sends kids and staff to the program, and youngsters seem to have a great time. There are also organizations in the community such as the Christopher Lions Club and the Christopher Columbian Club that have made financial donations to support activities, along with individuals.
There have been several recent improvements to the library. The improvement in technology has been a major one. In the last week of June 2016, the library went online with the Illinois Heartland Library System, giving it access to the largest library consortium in the U.S.
Since last spring, the library has been connected to cloud-based services for their patrons, who can use apps for their devices to download books to be read or listened to as audio books from a massive collection of reading material.
The library has nine patron computers now, all but three of which are brand new. The addition of a broadband connection was another great step. Briley is proud of the improvements that have occurred.
"Technology-wise, we have definitely come into the 21st century," she said.
The summer reading program will continue next year, and Briley and her team are constantly looking for new presenters for children. She said she is proud of how the library is growing and hopes to continue to see the facility and its programs improve for the entire Christopher community.
Library hours are noon to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.