By Linda H. Feaster, Branch Manager, Ocean County Library, Long Beach Island

Kristen Crepezzi feels right at home in her new job as librarian for Children’s and Teen Services at the LBI Branch of the Ocean County Library. A native of Barnegat and graduate of Southern Regional High School, she remembers what it was like as a teen to search for something to do. With that in mind, she is developing a year-round program to serve children from birth through age eighteen that will nurture young minds and help them discover and fulfill their passions. Kristen brings a lot of enthusiasm, ideas, and energy to her inaugural summer as a librarian.

Kristen graduated from Rutgers in May 2018 with a Master of Information Services degree. Growing up, she had always used her local library, and as a teen came to love young adult literature. But after Hurricane Sandy, Kristen realized that libraries were at the forefront of community recovery where people had access to resources they needed, and assistance from staff in finding them. She discovered how libraries support their communities, and that being a librarian was a way she could do the meaningful work she sought.

Kristen works at all levels with patrons of the library, developing programs for children and teens that serve their needs, as well as with adults, helping them find information, reading materials, and assisting with the use of technology, all of which provides variety and satisfaction in her job. With an ambitious and thoughtful line-up, Kristen Crepezzi is making sure there is always something to do at the library.

Travis Gale of Eyes of the Wild

This year’s summer reading theme is Libraries Rock! There’s something planned for almost every day for children, teens, and their families. Live animals and unique creatures will visit the branch, picture book authors will read to children at Picture Book Bash, and the stories and sounds of the Pinelands will spark imaginations. Families can find out why Children Make Terrible Pets, by the OCL Puppet Players, and how to “build” smoothies. After watching Despicable Me 3, children ages three and up can build with LEGO® and DUPLO® blocks.

And, no summer reading program called Libraries Rock! would be complete without rock painting, a Rock ‘n’ Roll paper craft, music bingo, Makey Music Fun – making music using circuits, a laptop, and food – and a drumming program for families called Bonk! An adventure designed just for kids aged nine through seventeen will be the Stranger Things Escape Room, where working together to solve puzzles sets you free. The branch’s partnership with Bayview Park will continue this year, featuring two StoryWalks® – a picture book walkway; three PJs in the Park – that will include story time and crafts; and a performance by Mr. Scott the Music Man. Libraries Rock! also has reading incentives where children keep track of the books they read. For each five books read children get to spin a wheel for a prize. The grand finale on August 16th will be celebrated with crafts, raffles, and snacks.

Summertime can be a challenge for some as reading skills and purposefulness may also go on vacation. Many parents worry their younger children may fall behind without continued reading. Other parents worry their teens, too young for a summer job, won’t be spending their time in meaningful ways. The Ocean County Library has put those two challenges to work for each other. The Reading Buddies program matches up a teen volunteer with a younger child. During relaxed, friendly sessions at the library the younger child will read aloud to the teen. Children can maintain and improve their reading skills and be better prepared for going back to school, and teens earn volunteer hours they need for high school clubs and honor societies. Teens who have completed seventh grade can also volunteer at the library as part of the “Service and Achievement in the Library” or S.A.I.L. program where they help prepare crafts and assist with programs. When the time to apply for a job comes, participating teens can list their skills and experiences at S.A.I.L. on their applications. Ask about both programs at your branch.

For the folks who live here year-round, never fear. Kristen will be visiting classes regularly at the Ethel Jacobsen School, LBI grade schools, and St. Francis pre-school. She plans to continue story and play times for babies and toddlers, and to start a new series – Explore, Create, Play, for two to six-year-olds, and after school STEAM programs for six to ten-year-olds. Books at the Beach, a book club for fifth and sixth graders will also be returning in the fall. The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) will be held on the third Wednesday of every month, with events such as board games, no-sew crafts, and paint parties for teens and tweens on the first and third Wednesdays.

From books to playtime and games, to crafts and volunteering, there is always something for children, their families, and caregivers, and young adults to do and learn at the Island Library.

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