Beyond books: Marion library keeps patrons engaged with special collections

MARION—During a pandemic, entertainment options have been limited, but Marion Public Library has been providing patrons with plenty of activities through its special collections—ranging from puzzles to story sacks to cake pans.

Director Janet Marler said a passion project for her during COVID-19 shutdowns was creating a special collection just for children: story sacks. Each bag has a book and several activities related to the themes and characters of the story.

I needed something positive to do during the COVID lockdown. I needed something creative and fun,” she said.

Marler’s story sacks have some of the most popular children’s stories, like “If You Take A Mouse to the Movies,” with activities for counting and sequencing.

These are for preschoolers, so it’s colors, shapes, counting, matching. It was fun to see what we could come up with that pertained to the story,” she said.

When looking for books to build story sacks on, Marler looked for stories with lots of characters, action and illustrations. Each book comes with about half-a-dozen activities and can be checked out for up to two weeks. Families are limited to two story sacks at a time, so there will be opportunities to share.

I get joy knowing the kid would enjoy it and knowing when they brought it back it was a helpful learning experience, especially during COVID. They had more to do than read the story, but they could be working on skills and learning,” she said.

Always budget-conscious, Marler said all of the story sacks were created using books and materials the library has in-house.

In addition to new story sacks for kids, Marler said puzzles have been a mainstay of the library’s collection.