Teens learning how to DJ from industry pros. Toddlers developing kindergarten readiness skills through songs and crafts. Tweens getting hands-on experience with the latest high-tech virtual reality gear. And there’s also free concerts, performances, classes and after-hour events for adults? Where – and when – in South Florida is all of this going on? Simple answer: Summer at Your Broward County Library.
Each summer, Broward County Library, with sponsorship from the Broward Public Library Foundation and other organizations such as the Florida Panthers, hosts a summer program that encompasses fun, learning, exploring, community, literacy, entertainment and cultural enrichment through three months’ worth of free events (save for a handful of evening events for grown-ups that offer cocktails, music and entertainment). Each year’s summer program has a theme that coordinates statewide with other Florida public libraries and this year’s is Libraries Rock!
Beginning in June, 36 library locations throughout Broward County will host events for all ages. In keeping with this year’s theme, many events will have library customers rocking out with free concerts as well as make-it-yourself music, moving-to-the-groove dance parties and workouts and (with a nod to the literal) fun geology- and science-related events for all ages.
Young library customers can enjoy interactive performances, including a special opera story time with the Palm Beach Opera; arts and crafts workshops; hands-on, hightech classes in coding, robotics, electronics, snap circuits, voice-assisted technology and virtual reality; music lessons and how-to instruction on DJing; Zumba and yoga; movies; and book discussions for tweens and teens. There will also be over 20 Summer at Your Library kick-off events for children and teens featuring wildlife shows, parties, top-notch children’s performers, refreshments and information.
All this action might make young library customers hungry, so 16 Broward County Library locations will be participating in our Summer Breakspot program, which provides free lunches and/or afternoon snacks to anyone 18 years or younger.
Grown-ups have their pick of free events such as writer’s workshops, concerts, karaoke, meditation, book groups, art classes, beauty and personal care workshops; Beatles yoga, ukulele classes and foreign films, to name a few.
Debuting this summer is a series of larger-scale signature library events. This includes the renowned South Florida Book Festival, which will be held July 20th and 21st at the African-American Research Library. This two-day celebration of authors, books and literature features workshops, book signings, cooking demos, panel discussions and author presentations. Past Festivals have included authors Tavis Smiley, Edwidge Danticat and Eric Jerome Dickey. (Visit SoFloBookfest.Broward.org for details.)
Another signature event is the new Afro-Caribbean Weekend Fest, scheduled for June 15th and 16th at the Foster Park Community Micro-Library and the Hallandale Beach Branch Library, respectively. Festival goers can enjoy Caribbean culture and cuisine with music, food trucks, a story slam and more. The Juneteenth Blues and Sweet Potato Pie Festival (June 16th at Northwest Branch Library); Destination Rock – Dance After Hours at Main (August 3rd at Main Library) and the Fort Lauderdale Story Slam (August 11th at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center) round the signature series.
An additional component of Summer at Your Library is inviting participants to register to win prizes for reaching learning and reading goals and attending free library events. This year, prizes include tickets to Florida Panthers hockey games as well as Panther jerseys and special fan experiences; tickets to museums and other local attractions; eReaders and separate grand prizes for children, teens and adults. All ages can register – even babies and toddlers can win by attending events and being read to aloud.
These learning and reading initiatives help combats the “summer brain drain” which occurs when students lose knowledge they gained during the school year. The phenomenon has an even greater effect on students from low-income families. Research shows that by fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students up to three years behind their peers, according to the National Summer Learning Association. Summer at Your Library helps level the playing field for lower-income students who don’t have an opportunity to attend summer camps and other summer enrichment opportunities. They can attend comparable programs for free at Broward County Library.
For a full list of Summer at Your Library events, including locations, dates and times, as well as information on registering to win prizes during Summer at Your Library, the Summer Breakspot program, signature events and kick-off events, please visit Broward.org/Library/Summer.
This article originally published in Art Hive Magazine Issue #26, which can be found here.