The Pekin Public Library offers free programs throughout the year on a variety of topics for people of all ages. Library programs during the summer, however, take on a special importance for students because of the role such programs play in helping them prepare for the coming school year.

“Reading during the summer prevents the ‘summer slide,’ of students going backwards in their learning,” said Rochelle Marsden, the Pekin Public Library’s youth services coordinator. “We also encourage families to take advantage of our free programs, which gets kids and parents out of the house and entertained at the library.”

Summer programs for children include magicians, ventriloquists, musicians and a science show. The library will also host visitors from Forest Park Nature Center, Wildlife Prairie Park and the Peoria Zoomobile. Family-friendly movies will be shown on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Selected movies will reflect the theme: “Reading Takes You Everywhere,” and will be set in locations all over the world.

For teens and young adults, the library offered a Poetry Slam from 6 to 7 p.m. July 19. Poetry Slam allowed teens an opportunity to share original poetry, songs, and creative writing. On June 21, local crafter and entrepreneur Jasmin Harmon will give a presentation from 5 to 6 p.m. titled “Expanding Your Online Business: Facebook & Etsy.” 

“This is a great program that will give teens and adults the opportunity to learn about selling products online if they choose to make and sell their future creations,” said Hannah Singleton, the library’s young adult services coordinator.

On July 14, the library invited teens to tie-dye T-shirts in the community garden from 5 to 6 p.m. A presentation called “Henna: Experience a Tradition,” was also be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. or from 2:30 to 4 p.m. July 14. Teens can hear the story behind this ancient tradition of self-expression and beauty and get a henna tattoo that is unique to them. 

“Pekin Public Library is offering unique and creative programs that will give teens something fun to do this summer,” said Singleton. “For each teen program that a teen summer reader attends, they gain entries toward spinning our prize wheel and winning our grand prizes.”

For adults, the library will continue its Illinois Bicentennial Film Series at 11 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. This series will take place through December 2018. This summer’s movies included “History of Pekin Railroads and Depots” on July 6 and, on Aug. 3, “Lt. Commander Scott Altman, Pekin’s First Astronaut." The library will also show a film recognizing Altman’s induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame this year.

“We (hosted) our first outdoor theater production at 2 p.m. June 23 in the library’s Community Garden,” said Emily Lambe, the library’s public information and programming manager. “Artistic Community Theater (presented) the family show, ‘Complaint Department and Lemonade.’ It (involved) five people playing multiple parts in a fast-paced comedy suitable for all ages.” 

Because July 3 marked the 100th anniversary of the Columbia Disaster, the library set up an all-day display in the community room that was open to the public. Additionally, author Ken Zurski spoke about his book, “The Wreck of the Columbia,” at 11 a.m.  

“The library isn’t just about books,” said Lambe. “We have programs for adults on technology, history, crafts, gardening, theater, health care and so much more. To encourage summer reading for our adult population, every time adults check out books at the Information Desk, they can print out a receipt that will have an entry form at the bottom. Adults should fill that out and place it in the bucket for prize baskets that we will be giving away at the end of summer.” 

The Pekin Public Library is located at 301 S. 4th St. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For a complete list of summer events at the library, visit Programs are color-coded by target age groups.