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Library offers learning, community place for families

Sam Householder : August 20, 2018 9:02 am : Elkhart Public Library, Home Feature

dunlap-family-01When Heidi Gunn and her family moved back to the Dunlap area after nearly 20 years, the first place she took her daughters was to the library.

“It’s good for our girls to know that where ever you go there is a library that you can plug in to,” said Gunn, referencing her daughters Lucy, 5 and Stella, 2.

Gunn and her husband Kevin, bought a home in Dunlap and were excited that the Dunlap Branch was less than a mile from their home, becoming a great place to go to meet other families and prepare their daughters for school.

When they lived in Colorado, Gunn said that they were frequent users of their library and that when they moved, finding their new local library was an important transitional component for their daughters.

“It’s a place for the girls to feel familiar,” she said.

Gunn said Lucy will be starting kindergarten at Ox Bow Elementary School this week, while she continues to give Stella preschool lessons at home.

“I taught preschool and when we were living in Denver, we felt comfortable homeschooling our girls for preschool,” she said. “What’s nice for Stella is to come here and we can incorporate all of the awesome library programs into our lessons.”

She also uses the library’s materials in order to teach her daughters as well.

“When you home school, it’s nice to not have to own every single awesome book.” she said.

Even with one child now in school, Gunn still plans to attend many library programs in the afternoons this fall.

“I love that a lot of the programs start at 4:30 p.m., it’s great for parents with kids in school, you can pick them up and come into the library,” she said.

Gunn said she especially enjoys bringing her girls to the library’s storytimes for the socialization and crafts. She’s also had them involved in 1,000 books before kindergarten and the summer reading program.

Whether it’s picking out new books to read or attending a craft making program, Gunn said their family will continue to love and use their library.

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Elkhart, Concord students gain valuable access to trusted online resources

Sam Householder : August 13, 2018 7:59 am : Elkhart Public Library, Home Feature

This year, more than 20,000 students in the Elkhart area will have free access to resources enhancing their classroom learning and individual creativity.

teens-on-computers-3Elkhart Public Library offers “ecards” to all K-12 students in Elkhart and Concord schools. The individual barcode allows access to the digital library with resources ranging from online tutors, research tools, perspectives on history, vocational manuals, and – of course – books, music and more.

The program is entering its fourth year.

“E-cards have been extremely valuable in providing our students with resources to help them with their in-class and homework assignments,” says Tara White, literacy director for Elkhart Community Schools. “The cards offer students the ability to easily access sources to use in research, like databases, newspapers, and magazines, and if they are struggling with an assignment or need assistance, free tutoring and assistance services are available on Brainfuse.

“It provides our students with a multitude of options for learning and engagement.”

Want to learn more about EPL’s online resources? Watch at bit.ly/ecardEPL

Mary Beth Schlabach, assistant director at the library, says the ecard program developed quickly in 2015 as a way to get Elkhart middle school students greater access to online resources. Concord schools welcomed the idea, and by the 2016-17 school year, high schools were brought into the mix.

Now, elementary students also have access to explore encyclopedias and the resources in INSPIRE, a wide-ranging information database. Parents of the youngest students will find benefit in Miss Humblebee’s Academy, a complete early literacy tool.

“I personally see ecards as valuable because these are reliable tools teachers, parents and students can count on,” says Schlabach. “As teachers take time to get to know our online resources, they will find new ways to utilize the content and it will assist them in what they’re already doing in the classrooms.”

Access to the online resources, both those provided for students and the general public, generally cost Elkhart Public Library just more than 0,000 each year. The investment is worthwhile, Schlabach says, as usage increases.

“Everyone can find some information online, but these resources weed out commercial content. The sources are authorities on the subject matter, and are more in line with what is needed as students prep for college or technical training,” Schlabach says. “If teachers or parents have questions, they should reach out to us and ask about any struggles. We can collaborate and find a solution.”

For information about online resources, contact the library’s reference department at 574-522-5669.

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Empower yourself, learn new skills and brush up on old ones

Sam Householder : August 10, 2018 8:49 am : Elkhart Public Library, Home Feature

mkt-180718-empowerment-crocks-100This August is all about empowerment and bettering yourself at EPL and we’re here to help with the new Empowerment [c]Rocks series.

Every Wednesday in August at 4 and 6 p.m., there will be a program designed to help people get empowered on topics such as home repair, budgeting, cooking and more.

The purpose of this series to help people improve their basic life skills and pick up new ones. It’s never too late for self-improvement.

< < Click here to register for the series > >

With attendance at all five sessions, eligible attendees will receive a brand new slow cooker courtesy of the United Way of Elkhart County and be entered to win from Centier Bank.

The dates and sessions are below:

  • Aug. 1: United Way of Elkhart County will be talking about how to get connected to local resources for general information and more.
  • Aug. 8: The Elkhart Public Library will breakdown what we have going on and our offerings as far as information, research and entertainment.
  • Aug. 15: LaCasa will be going over some basic home improvement and do-it-yourself tips for those little projects to do around the house.
  • Aug. 22: Centier Bank will share tips and ideas for budgeting and saving money to put towards debt or for a rainy day. Whatever you’re saving for, Centier can help.
  • Aug. 29: S.A.L.T. Sisters from Goshen will offer easy and healthy cooking tips and recipes that aren’t time consuming and taste great.

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Meet a Librarian: Vonda Litwiller

Sam Householder : August 10, 2018 8:47 am : Elkhart Public Library

vonda-2Looking to make her lifelong love of books into a career, Vonda Litwiller pivoted from a career as a nutritionist into being a librarian 13 years ago.

Now in her fifth year at EPL, Litwiller works as a reference librarian on the second floor. She oversees interlibrary loan, assists people and offers answers while working the reference desk, and curates the art, photography, sports and music portion of the reference collection.

“I really like my job,” she says. “I really like my co-workers. I like the atmosphere of being surrounded by people who love learning and books.”

According to Litwiller, reference duties include researching books to be added to the collection, as well as checking out potential new online services to offer library customers.

“We are always looking for what the next ‘thing’ is,” she says.

For Litwiller, her love of libraries goes back to her childhood, when she says she would curl up in her bed and read for hours.

She even says she would make library papers and “check out” her books to her friends.

“I like everything about books and the people who use them,” Litwiller says.

In addition to loving her work, Litwiller remains a prolific reader. She says she can read up to four or five books a month, plus listening to an audiobook on her way to and from work.

“I have a fiction, a nonfiction and an audiobook going at the same time,” she said.

When she isn’t reading or working, Litwiller and her husband, Ref, can be found camping in their Volkswagen Westfalia, attending concerts, or spending time with her sons, Ethan and Zefram.

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New book club mixes young adult reading, TV, movies

Sam Householder : August 10, 2018 8:45 am : Elkhart Public Library, Home Feature

A new book club is going outside the library walls for a growing community that enjoys popular titles, good food, and lively discussion.

to_all_the_boys_ive_loved_beforeYoung at Heart’s first book talk will be Sept. 13, and the group will meet at 6:30 p.m. every second Thursday in Old Style Deli, 200 S. Second St., downtown Elkhart.

“While we have several successful book clubs at EPL, we wanted to see if we could do something to capture a different audience,” says librarian Allison McLean, who helped organize the club.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with people that love to read these books that are marketed for teens,” says McLean. “For some people it helps them feel a little younger or capture those feelings of being young.”

The book for the first meeting is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han. A movie based on the novel will debut on Netflix in August.

“We were able to tie some of the books to new releases that are coming out as movies or TV shows,” McLean says.

Finding books that are being spun off into TV shows and movies helps the club appeal to a broader audience, as well as help pick books that are more relevant in pop culture.

“There’s a lot of fun stuff that’s being published in this genre right now, whether it’s realistic fiction, sci-fi or fantasy,” says McLean.

Meeting outside of the library helps bring a lighter atmosphere to the event, while also helping support other Elkhart businesses. “Just to make it a little more fun and to enjoy some of the places that downtown Elkhart has to offer to eat,” McLean said.

In October the club will read “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon, which is a love story that takes place over the course of one day. A movie based on the book is due out next year.

The club will read “The Hate U Give” for the November meeting. It’s a story about a girl whose childhood friend is shot in front of her by the police.

“It’s a lot more serious but it’s relevant to a lot of issues going on,” McLean says. “It’s sure to generate an interesting discussion.”

A movie based on that book is set for release Oct. 19.

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