Living Democracy

Summer Activities Keep Linden Youth Busy

image of children at Linden libraryAs hot weather hits, the city of Linden is doing its part to make sure local kids stay active and cool this summer.

The Linden Public Library summer reading program, “Fizz, Boom, READ!” started June 5. Over 103 people piled into the library’s conference room where local magician Allen Ham wowed both kids and parents alike with his mind-blowing tricks and illusions.

Kids laughed and screamed as Ham produced a rabbit out of a hat and made a girl float in thin air. Once the show was over, librarian Joyce Morgan made sure the children lined up quietly as they waited their turn to pet the rabbit.

Over the month of June, there will be three other sessions where kids can come to the library and enjoy entertainment. Morgan says that she tries to make sure children in Linden get the same kinds of entertainers and events libraries in larger counties host.

With the library for 20 years now, Morgan says that she has been blessed with a great group of county commissioners who are willing to invest money into her system. “I think they just realize the importance the library has to educating the youth,” she says.

The Marengo County Commission provides funds for the library building and the maintenance costs. Morgan was the force behind moving the library to its current location.

image of Linden librarianWhen she spotted out an empty building owned by the city, she applied for a grant to purchase to space, hoping to move from a much smaller location. Now the library is making the most of more space that includes a children’s section decorated with a mural painted by local artist Josephine Blackwell and a spacious conference room.

The library makes its mark in the community. Equipped with several computers, the library has become a place where people can come for job searches or conduct research on the computers. “We’re a hub for people who can’t afford computers…we’re here to provide that service for them.”

Alabama Southern University uses the conference room to teach free GED classes, and the space also provides room to host other local community events.

But Morgan’s favorite part of the library is the Bookmobile. When she first began working for the library, she drove the large bus that has been converted into a mobile library. The Bookmobile covers six different routes in an effort to hit as much of the county as possible.

Morgan says that these stops are more than dropping off a book; they are visits. The driver (now James Creel) gets to know the people on a much deeper level than most would expect. Morgan says that the library is as much an outreach center as it is a library, and the Bookmobile seems to play an important role in expanding services.

Ms. Morgan, the library, and the bookmobile are just one way that the kids (and adults) are served by their county. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is another.

image of artworkACES provides many services, one of which is 4-H. For the past couple years, Marengo County’s 4-H has held a summer art workshop to encourage kids to get out on a summer day and create their own masterpiece.

For $5, participants are given a canvas, a brush, and enough paint to create their own masterpiece. This year, more than 20 young artists turned out at the old National Guard Armory in Linden. Kathryn Friday, the ACES county extension coordinator, asked local art teachers to help lead the workshop on June 11-12.  As the kids painted, Mary Long, Lori Chapman and Lee Singleton walked among the tables and assisted as necessary.

The kids laughed and painted for two hours each day. Most finished their canvases on the first day. On the second day a group painting was created. Soon, paint was on hands, faces, and even the floor. After the banner was complete, Friday and Long took the opportunity to teach about different types of arts, including visual, performing and literary art.

image of student at art workshop in LindenAll art painted during the workshop will be displayed during Linden’s second annual downtown art walk. While local artists’ work will be displayed inside businesses downtown, student art will be placed on storefronts. The group painting will also be hung downtown for children, parents, and grandparents to see.

This time of year can often overwhelm parents when nothing seems to entertain their children, but Marengo County is doing the most to ensure that locals are given opportunities to get out of the house and get going during these warm summer months.

By Cristiana Shipma
Last Updated: June 17, 2014