Nacogdoches Public Library summer program invites readers of all ages

The Nacogdoches Public Library has a summer schedule packed with fun things to do that will bring the community together.
Published: Jul. 16, 2023 at 4:50 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches Public Library has a summer schedule packed with fun things to do that will bring the community together.

Assistant Library Manager Crystal Hicks explained the importance of their events and the role the library plays for the city.

“We really believe that the library is one of the last places where people can meet as a community for free, so we make it our goal to have exciting, fun and educational programs for all ages,” Hicks said. “Summer is an especially important time because kids are out of school, and everyone needs something to do. We try to have something going on just about every day that people can take part in.”

The library has a creative range of activities, and Hicks said they come up with these options by brainstorming, looking at what other libraries are doing and taking suggestions directly from the public.

“We’re growing now more than we ever had, I think,” she said. “They come for the programs, but then they stick around to check out books...we’re very much on an upswing, and we’re happy to see it. Of course, we have new people that come every day, but we have our tried-and-true patrons that have been coming for years, and we see generations. I’ve been here for 11 years now, so the teenagers that I worked with my first year now have their own families, and they’re bringing them to the library, so it’s really wonderful to see, and we are very much a close-knit family.”

Having such a supportive base gives them the opportunity to try new things. For example, they have two types of alternative libraries: a “library of things” and a “seed library.” The library of things holds specialized items that you can borrow, like telescopes or sewing machines.

“Things that you probably are not going to need on a daily basis but might desperately need or really want at certain times,” Hicks explained. “We have things from cake pans to food dehydrators, a breadmaker, just all kinds of different things. And again, that is one area where we take suggestions from our public, and some of those things have been donated from the public as well. It’s very much a community piece.”

Similarly, the seed library offers free seeds to those who want to try growing something, and if they succeed, people often donate seeds back to the collection for the following year.

“This last spring, we’ve cleared out the seed library a couple of times,” Hicks said. “It has been super popular this year, and we’re looking forward to growing it in the future.”

For her favorite activity, Hicks chose something you might not expect to find at a library: an escape room.

“My personal favorite is the escape rooms that we do,” she said. “For several years now we have built escape rooms. We do it for groups, so a group of up to 10 can sign up and come in, and over several days we have back-to-back groups coming in to go through the escape room. We have a dedicated space we use for that, and the one that we have coming up is the Wild West Showdown, so we decorate it thematically and put in the puzzles and all of that kind of stuff.”

These engaging programs have an important benefit for the library as well, by attracting visitors who might not otherwise think to come.

“We do like to do some big kind of tent-pole things that will bring in crowds that maybe wouldn’t necessarily have come in becaues they don’t have toddlers for toddler storytime or things like that,” Hicks said. The past escape room themes have included Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Dr. Seuss and other literary worlds. Of course, visitor suggestions play a role in what may come next, as well.

For those who want to support the Nacogdoches Public Library, the Friends of the Library group welcomes new participation. They hold book sales, fundraisers and volunteer to help make all the library events possible.

The summer reading program continues through Aug. 5 and ends with an event to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday. To learn more about what’s coming up, check the library website or their Facebook page.