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Library use can heat up during winter

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Families looking for books to read before a snowstorm hits or who want to learn how to make a craft as a way to beat the winter blues often go to the same place: a public library.

While library workers say summer is by far their busiest time, winter months sometimes see a jump in attendance at family and children programs and in families checking out books because of the weather or to pass the time during school breaks.

“We can tell when people are locked in for a few days,” said Linda Messick, head of children’s service at Greenwood Public Library. “Maybe we are like the grocery stores, when bad weather is coming, they come in for extra materials.”

Some library branches try to plan around the cold weather to make the library a destination for families who want a place to go.

Kids and adults can win prizes for reading books at winter reading programs in February. Crafts and other activities entice families to come in during the winter.

While summer reading programs are more popular, winter reading programs are gaining traction with families, with 1,500 people signing up across the county, said Sarah Taylor, branch manager for the Franklin branch of the Johnson County Public Library.

“(Families) are looking for a place to go where they can burn off some energy without going outside,” she said.

With February being cold and gray, a winter reading program is attractive to families who want something to do, said Beth Yates, children services manager at the White River Township branch.

“Sometimes people just want to curl up during the month of February,” Yates said. “We like to give them an opportunity to have something to do during the winter.”

Part of the boost in attendance could be attributed to lack of programming earlier in winter, library workers said. Most programming at local libraries is scaled back during the holidays and resumes this month.

After a long break after the holidays and especially before a snowstorm, sometimes more people will frequent the children’s section of the library. They will check out more, too.

“We see people who take out armfuls of books,” Messick said.

On the other hand, story times and craft programs don’t see seasonal swings. Those programs often are full no matter what the time of year, Messick said.

Librarians try new programs throughout the year to get people in the library, Taylor said.

“We try to think of new things,” she said. “We have programming every single week.”

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