Thanksgiving celebrations at the library

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By Steve Zalusky

As Thanksgiving looms on the horizon, families are getting ready to gather around the table, share turkey and stuffing and enjoy the company of relatives, not to mention sneaking a look at a minute here and there of football.

Libraries, however, have jumped ahead of the Thanksgiving curve, getting into the holiday spirit by offering programs brimming with holiday cheer and library materials containing Thanksgiving recipes, as well as conducting food drives to help the needy enjoy their holiday.

The Salt Lake County (Utah) Library System this week is offering live entertainment in the form of a magician who is hosting a family-friendly celebration.  At the Carrollton (Texas) Public Library, two days before Thanksgiving, the doors are open to children of all ages to create a Thanksgiving Day craft.  The Forsyth County Libraries (Georgia) are contributing to the Thanksgiving festivities with “Turkey Day Tales,” stories, songs, and a puppet show.

Such libraries as the New York Public Library are providing Thanksgiving tips and recipes. The NYPL suggests “The Savoy Cocktail Book” for advice concerning holiday libations and “The food52 cookbook : 140 winning recipes from exceptional home cooks,” which offers  creamy sausage stuffed mushrooms and other suggested fare.

Even academic libraries are getting into the Thanksgiving act, with the University of Vermont libraries promoting light Thanksgiving reading by encouraging requests for books through interlibrary loan.

Emphasizing the giving part of Thanksgiving, libraries are helping out in a charitable way.

In October, the Portage (Michigan) District Library, as part of its 16th Annual Food For Fines Campaign, the library collected food items for donation to the Thanksgiving Food Basket program at the Portage Community Center.

The library waved $1 in overdue fines for each item donated. Donations of ramen noodles earned a waiver of 20 cents per package.

The Arlington (Virginia) Public Library encouraged contributions to the Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center, which, the library said, experiences the highest number of visits to its food pantry in November and December.

Jill Austin, circulation supervisor with the Portage District Library, said, “This is a project that we really enjoy doing each year. It offers us an opportunity to support our community in another way and help another community partner meet their goals.”  As the circulation supervisor, she said she also appreciates the opportunity to connect with patrons in a positive way to resolve their overdue fines, especially for those members who may have been blocked from being able to checkout materials.

She said, “We get so much positive feedback as we work the intake area for Food for Fines, even from people who are not participating but are visiting the library during that time.”

There is a lot for which to be thankful – libraries remind of that not only during Thanksgiving, but throughout the year.