Hannibal Free Public Library plans Library Con kick-off, various space-themed activities

Children will soon get to explore reading in a new way during the Hannibal Free Public Library Summer Reading Program, beginning with a Library Con kickoff event from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 29 in Central Park.

Caitlin Greathouse, assistant director at the Hannibal Free Public Library, said the program was funded through a $5,035 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and administered by the Missouri Public Library. Each year's programs are full of activities and prizes thanks to support from the IMLS funding and community donors. Greathouse is excited about the events that reflect this year's theme, “A Universe of Stories,” she said.

“It's so easy to throw in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects and all of those along with it,” Greathouse said. “We'll have space exploration station set up, and we're hoping to set up our own planetarium where they can look at the constellations. It's been so much fun just dreaming all this stuff up.”

Library Con will feature cosplayers and fans of Star Wars, Star Trek and other space-themed entertainment. Greathouse said the event will be for all ages, and she looks forward to seeing the children's creativity reflected in their costumes.

Events during the program include weekly shows at 2 p.m. Wednesdays in June and July, featuring musicians, yoga instructors live animals and other attractions. Youth can participate in space-themed interactive activities and craft projects like a galaxy in a bottle, models of the Solar System and galaxy tie-dyeing during the Space Warrior Academy at 4 p.m. on Mondays in June and July. Twisted Juniper Yoga will lead yoga instruction for children at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, and Serengeti Steve will bring The Reptile Experience live animal show to the library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 29. A Teddy Bear Sleepover will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, July 8 with an evening story time. The stuffed animal “stays the night for after-hours library exploration and adventure.”

Greathouse said the grant funds components like programs and craft supplies, but it doesn't cover the cost for prizes. Staff members decided last year they wanted to provide incentives as children read — they raised $2,400 from local donors to purchase prizes like tablets for all ages and PlayStations. Participation rates doubled for most age groups compared to those from the previous year.

Community organizations such as the Kiwanis Club have already donated to this year's program, and Greathouse met with members of the Knights of Columbus. She said the support was greatly appreciated, and she welcomed interested donors to contact library staff members.

For more information or to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, stop by the Hannibal Free Public Library, 200 S. Fifth St., or visitsites.google.com/view/hfplsummerreading/.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com