Rachel Slimp

Cleburne Public Library Youth Librarian Rachel Slimp chooses a book from the library’s young adult section.

The recent reopening of the Cleburne Public Library ushered in as well the return of the annual summer reading program, which runs through July 31 this year.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prompted city officials to close public access to the library for several weeks during which online access to resources and curbside book check outs remained available. 

The library, on Wednesday, reopened with ongoing temporary hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Capacity is limited to 50 percent and staff members continue to step up disinfecting and safety measures.

The uncertainty and setbacks of COVID-19 aside, the yearning for a good story never abates, Library Manager Tina Dunham said, and the possibilities of “once upon a time” continue to transport and excite our imaginations. That inspired the choice of Imagine Your Story as the theme of the 2020 summer reading program.

The program is open to all ages and a library card is not required to register. Registration is open to individuals and families and includes the categories of Pre-K, children, teen and adult. The group registration option is available for day care use only.

One major difference this year is that registration is online only. Those without internet access may, however, use the library’s public computers to register.

To register, visit cleburnereads.readsquared.com.

Participants can log their reading minutes online in order to receive badges and awards. Each reading minute garners one point. Participants receive badges and awards for every 100 points logged up to a total of 800 points.

Prizes include books, bookmarks, pins, gift certificates to local merchants and more.

The summer reading program benefits children and families in many ways, library officials said. They promote family involvement for one and increase reading and comprehensive ability in participants.

Dunham said she and her staff are thrilled to welcome the public back to the library.

“Usually this time of year we’re just busy, busy and don’t even have time to sit down,” Dunham said. “But this is a strange, unprecedented time for everyone and doing our summer reading program online is a totally new concept for us. 

“The return of people to the library so far has been a little slow, but steady. We understand people being cautious, but our traffic is increasing. Our regulars are starting to come back and so are parents with their children. We just want everyone to know that we’re here. We’re open and we want people to come back and check out books as we all try to get back to normal as much as possible.”

The Cleburne Public Library is at 302 W. Henderson St. For information call 817-645-0934 or visit cleburne.net.

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