Tag Archives: Children

Rail Travel at the Turn of the Century

October 2007

This has been a busy week at our house.  Sarah had to have the root of a tooth removed Monday.  Somebody, ahem, put her on the bed when she was 10 months old and of course she fell off and knocked a tooth out.  She only had it for 3 weeks.  Anyway, the Dentist said 2 1/2 years later that the root had to go.  Then the doggone tooth fairy didn’t remember to visit the first night the root was put out.  Whoops. 

Wednesday the husband had nose surgery, hopefully to cure his snoring problem as well as let him shut his mouth without actually dying of asphyxiation.  We shall see.  He has been hanging around the house a lot, it is kinda weird having him around so much, but then he can’t help because he feels so lousy. 

Then of course, I made it to the chiropractor twice.  My lower back hurts and it is all I can do to waddle around chasing Tommy.  Fortunately he prefers to climb, so I don’t have to bend over much.  I have to leave the kiddos in the waiting room while I go back.  So far they have not caused any problems.  Today a lady was waiting on her husband and she read a book to my kids.  Nothing like a small town I say.  I have been having all kinds of shooting pains up and down the back of my thighs.  I am counting the days until this kid gets out of me.  Thirty eight give or take a couple.

Rail travel at the turn of the century

I have taken two train trips in the last year, both starting from central Nebraska and ending in Denver. Amtrak has a ways to go before they make any headway in transportation in the US, and that is too bad.

Good things

1. You don’t have to drive or stay awake

2. The clientele is less spooky than bus travelers, in my limited experience

3. It probably isn’t more expensive for one person than driving with gas at $3.00/gal

4. Lots of leg room

5. Lounge and Dining car to relax in and meet people

6. There is kind of a romance about rail travel

7. You get to see the Denver Stock Yards (and other stuff you might not happen across)

8. The employees are exceptionally nice

9. Old train stations are cool

10. Less pollution than all those people driving, and probably flying as well

11. No waiting in line for security checks

12. You keep your luggage on the same car as you, so it won’t end up lost

Bad things

1. They are so doggone late

2. Only one train goes through a day, so the time may be horrid ie. 2:05 am departure

3. The bathrooms (although they are no worse that those on planes)

4. It is not easy to sleep next to someone you don’t know

I wish people would take advantage of this kind of travel so

1. More trains would run

2. The rail companies which own the tracks would prioritize getting Amtrak though

3. Amtrak could update some of its equipment (I think some of their engines are old)

4. More routes could be added

Kids in the Library

March 7, 2023

My son excitedly told me about a friend of his (I will call him Alex) who built a game website. He uses the site to host a couple of games he designed and some other games he found online. I know Alex; he used to come into the library to play Roblox with his brother. The two would spend hours giggling and chatting with each other and playing games on the computer. They don’t come in very often any more, and I miss them.

Kids go through stages at the library. They often start off by attending storytime on Wednesday mornings with a caregiver. They learn about the different topics that are covered in storytime but also how to interact with people who aren’t their family and how to share toys. This is besides the many other benefits of storytime including, but not limited to, an awareness of words and rhythm and colors and music. Miss Kira rotates a variety of toys in the play area which parents are welcome to use for play dates or just a different (and free) place to take the kids on a cold Saturday morning.

Each spring every second grade class in Gering comes to the library on a field trip. We call it the See Me In the Library Event or SMILE. We give the kids a tour of the library and their first library card. Then comes the chaotic part, where we help them each find two books to check out. Some of them are overwhelmed with finding exactly the right book while others are familiar with the library and they head right to their favorite section. Second graders are all over the place with their reading. Some look for a short book with lots of pictures while others are reaching for fat books like Harry Potter. If you want to see the future of our community, this is a great time to come to the library, unless you want to read, because it isn’t very quiet.

The next stage is Lego Club. This crowd is usually aged 8-12 (give or take a year or two). They rush in after early-out Wednesdays and mill around the desk asking “is it 3:00 yet?” -when Myra lets them into the community room where they scramble to build everything from swords to space ships. This is another opportunity to learn about sharing and how to behave in public, because this is often the first time kids are in the library without a parent or teacher supervising them. 

Then comes the Roblox stage. These kids range from grade school into middle school. Roblox is an online computer game hosting site. The site uses a simple programming language so it is easy for a beginner to code their own game and upload it so other Roblox users can play it. You can find role playing games, fun games like “Work at a Pizza Place,” tycoon games where the goal is to keep increasing your wealth. Roblox hosts thousands of kinds of games and just as wide of a variety of quality, since some are designed by beginners and others are made by professionals.

Once kids hit middle school they often come to the library to socialize after school. Our new teen area (sponsored by our local McDonald’s) has comfy seating and places to charge phones. After years of not having anywhere to hang out in the library, teens are finding their way to the new space.

High school students sometimes come in to research papers, apply for jobs on the computers and often just to check for new manga comics in their favorite series.

Each stage of library users include readers and gamers and kids who just want somewhere safe and warm to hang out while waiting for their parents to get them after work. 

Back to the Roblox gamers, Alex’s website gets 34,000 hits a day. Yes, that comma is in the right place. This kid has a future in game design, if he can make the technology part of it work. Apparently Alex’s family doesn’t own a computer, but his parents have unlimited cell data and he uses a hotspot to run the gaming site on his school-issued Chromebook. Not having access to technology can severely limit people’s opportunities, but libraries can level the playing field. I suspect I will be seeing more of Alex this summer after school gets out and he has to turn his Chromebook back in. 

There’s more to the children’s section

May 2, 2023

In the late 1890s libraries began adding children’s rooms, mostly with the intention of getting noisy children out of the adult library areas. Patrons in our library may have felt the same way before we moved the children’s section downstairs. 

The children’s room is now located in the old community room. This allows us space to set out most of our educational toys. If you haven’t been in lately, bring a child and come play with our toys! (Or come without a child, I won’t tell.)

In the back corner we have puppets and a theater. There is also a play kitchen stocked with delicious plastic food and an assortment of dolls to feed it to.

For the kid who likes to build, we always have lots of different kinds of blocks out in all kinds of shapes and sizes. We have other types of construction materials too, like connecting fish and foam tangrams you can use to make designs.

The computers in the children’s section have an internet filter. We even have a special computer called the AWE which has a touch screen and games that were developed specifically for preschool aged kids.

The BEAM is a light-display which projects games onto the floor. Kids can stomp on monsters, sweep leaves away, or play letter identification and simple math games. Not to brag, but I hold the high score on the whack-a-mole game.

Youth Services Librarian Ms. Kira has a huge stash of educational toys and activities. She sets out different things for kids to investigate each month. Recently she had some magnetic blocks that stick to each other. Now I see she has some plastic shapes that attach to each other in unique ways. These different toys help kids learn through trial and error as well as helping develop those motor skills.

Speaking of motor skills, Ms. Kira got some tinker kits. These kits have motors and batteries and instructions to build different machines. Remember erector sets? They are kind of like that. She plans to use them for an after school activity later this year.

You can still find books for all stages of readers in the children’s library. We also have a variety of educational backpacks which have all kinds of fun activities and books in them.

If things get loud or too busy, you can use one of our sensory kits. These kits are to be used in the library. Each contains activities people use to calm themselves like noise canceling ear muffs, weighted items, and fidget toys. We have one on both levels, so if it gets loud upstairs, you are welcome to ask for one at the front desk.

We changed the space where the children’s library used to be into a tween and teen section. McDonald’s of Gering graciously sponsored this space and provided money for some furniture, including some chairs, a rug, and a table with a charging station. This is a great place for teens to hang out and read the latest issue of their favorite manga or to catch up on the latest hot tea.

I have a personal theory on quiet children in the library. Children are our future taxpayers. We want them to have an opportunity to have fun while learning in the library. Unfortunately, learning is not a quiet activity. It’s okay to ask questions and be excited about what you learned. Most of all, we want people to have fond memories of the library. Today’s libraries are more than a place for kids to read quietly. There’s more to the story.