Summer programs blast off at Fort Dodge library

Activities available for all ages

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Aniyah McNeil, 4, of Fort Dodge, is all smiles as she plays with a puppet at the Fort Dodge Public Library. This summer, the library is offering free programs for children, adults and teenagers.

For people of all ages looking for something to do this summer, the Fort Dodge Public Library may have something that can keep them busy.

The library is offering a variety of programming this year for people of all ages; from young children to grown adults, and even tiny babies.

And this year, all programming has the theme of outer space.

Adults and teens

For adults and teens, a variety of challenges and contests are being offered to keep them entertained, according to Erika Earp, adult and teen services librarian.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Fort Dodge Public Library Children’s Librarian Laurie Hotz poses with a pinata next to a poster advertising the library’s summer reading program. Children who read a specific number of books will get to take home their own pinata.

One of them is a reading challenge offered to both adults and teens in which they have a checklist and mark off every time they read for half an hour. Once they fill out the form, Earp said they can bring it back to the library and turn it in for a chance to win a $5 gift card to the Dariette.

“And then adults also get to do Cosmo Queries,” she said. “They have to answer a question about space. And then there’s a weekly drawing for that, which is a travel cup and a Starbucks gift card.”

There’s also an ongoing contest for adults and teens to see if they can correctly guess where a stuffed globe, nicknamed Ozworld, is hiding in Fort Dodge.

“That one gets harder every week,” Earp said. “This is supposed to be the easiest week.”

Those who guess are entered into a drawing for a Taco Tico gift card.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Erika Earp, the teen and adult services librarian at the Fort Dodge Public Library, poses next to a poster advertising the summer reading program for teens. The library has programming for all ages this summer.

Teens also have their own exclusive contests. They can spend an hour reading every night, and once they fill out their reading sheet, they can turn it in. Earp said the first time they turn in a completed form, they get candy. The second time they win a $5 Dariette gift card, and the third time they get a Starbucks gift card.

“And then every additional log enters them into the grand prize,” she said. “And all the adults go into the grand prize.”

There are two separate drawings for the grand prizes; one for teens and one for adults.

Earp said this year the library is offering a choice of grand prizes.

The adults can either pick a Kindle Fire or a one-year membership to the Science Center of Des Moines. The teens have the option of picking a Kindle Fire or a three-month pass to Fort Frenzy.

Another contest is known as One Liners, where teens are given the first line of a book and have to guess what it is. Earp said they are multiple choice questions and they can be difficult.

“I almost never know them,” she said.

The prize in the weekly drawing is a bag and a day pass to Rosedale Rapids.

Other events for the teens and adults include a day to create their own constellations on July 7, a teen craft day on Aug. 8, and a visit from an investigator who will discuss the paranormal in Iowa on Aug. 10.

Earp said the library is also playing movies for free once a month this summer. On Thursday they played “E.T.,the Extra-Terrestrial,” in July they’ll play “Galaxy Quest” and in August they’ll play “Spaceballs.”


Children’s Librarian Laurie Hotz said there is plenty of programming for the kids at the Fort Dodge Public Library this summer.

“The best time of the year, for the children’s department, is definitely our summer,” she said.

The annual summer reading program has already kicked off, and it’s open to children of all ages and skill levels.

“We give each child a summer reading log that they keep track of all they books they read or are ready to,” she said. “They then visit the library three times, because we think that’s an important skill.”

After visiting three times and reading 15 library books, the children get a special gift bag that contains gift cards to local restaurants, bookmarks and pencils, among other items.

And anyone who signs up for the summer reading program gets a free book bag.

There’s also a Tuesday Morning Adventure series, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Hotz said a different artist comes to the library every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and, for about 45 minutes, does a demonstration for the children and their families.

The first week featured a bubble magician, and this past week welcomed a woman from the Grout Museum of History and Science, in Waterloo.

“She brought some special water experiments for the kids to see,” Hotz said.

These events are free and open to anyone.

“You don’t have to sign up, there’s no age limit,” she said. “You can have a seat on the floor.”

The annual art contest is happening again this year, where children get to color in a rocket ship. Each picture will be hung up in the library.

There’s also a LEGO Table, which encourages children to check out library books.

“When they go up to the check-out desk, staff at circulation gives them a half cup of a half dozen LEGOs,” Hotz said.

They then can use those LEGOs to add to the ones already on the table. No LEGOs are ever removed; they are simply added what’s already there.

Hotz said this proved to be very popular last summer. It took three library staffers three hours to dismantle it last summer.

The family literacy program, which encourages families to do activities together — not necessarily just reading — also has a unique prize; a pinata.

And this year, due to an increase of families with babies, Hotz said the library has decided to offer programming for babies.

This includes a checklist of activities to do with a baby, including singing the ABC song, playing peek-a-boo and teaching babies about colors, among others.

Hotz said families that complete the whole checklist get a bib that says “I Love My Library.”

The library is also offering an activity based on the popular “Where’s Waldo?” books. Each week, the library hides a poster featuring Sammy the Star somewhere in the library. Kids are encouraged to look for the poster, and when they find it, they write down the password on the poster and submit a form to win a prize in a weekly drawing.

Hotz added the library also offers storytime, but that’s already filled up for the summer.

Library Director Rita Schmidt said summertime is her favorite time of the year for the library.

“We really are very lucky as far as Fort Dodge and our community and how much they support us,” she said. “We have adults who participate in our adult reading program and we appreciate that.”

She also praised her staff.

“I’m really blessed because I have really great staff,” she said. “My staff are the best. We really couldn’t do what we do if they weren’t as dedicated. And they know their material.”