Submitted by Jean Keetch
The Rimbey Library was a very busy and exciting place during the last week in March. We held our third annual Spring Festival for children, hiring four professionals to help us bring qualitative activities for young people during the spring break week. Lorna Bennett, an incredible illustrator, gave drawing tips to children from kindergarten to junior high. She is from Edmonton and has left some of her books here at the library for you to check out. Wednesday brought in a clown team, Heart of a Child from Lacombe. Face painting, balloon art and magic story telling was the draw for nearly 70 people. Bethany Ellis, a storyteller from Edmonton regaled us with tales on Thursday, and then on Friday Peter Puffin brought his musical repertoire to town. He also left some of his CD’s at the Rimbey library for patrons to check out! He is a great singer and the kids just loved him! Nearly 200 children were able to enjoy the offerings of the library during that week for a very nominal cost.
We believe that it is important for children to be exposed to performing arts as well as sports. The abilities associated with the humanities and the arts are vital, both to the health of individual nations and to the creation of a decent world culture. These include the ability to think critically, to transcend local loyalties and to approach international problems as a “citizen of the world”. Perhaps most importantly, they gain the ability to imagine sympathetically the predicament of another person. One of the best ways to cultivate sympathy is through instruction in literature, music, theatre, fine arts and dance.
The sort of community created by the arts is non-hierarchical – a model of the responsiveness and interactivity that a good democracy will also foster in its political processes. And not the least, the arts can be a great source of joy. To put it simply, we need to encourage the arts because they instill in children the habits of mind that last a lifetime: critical analysis skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity and to solve problems, perseverance and to strive for excellence. Moreover, the creative skills children develop through the arts carry them toward new ideas, new experiences, and new challenges, not to mention personal satisfaction. Participation in plays, songs and dances fills children with happiness that can carry over into the rest of their lives.
While most of these programs are offered to the public for a nominal fee, donation or at no cost, the Rimbey Municipal Library still pays for these entertainers to come to the library. We feel it is important to continue programming like this at our library and will be doing it again next spring. We would like to thank the Town of Rimbey and the Town of Ponoka for increasing our requisitions on a yearly basis as well as all the generous patrons and business that make annual donations. However, the provincial government has not increased our per-capita operating grant since 1993! The cost of living has risen dramatically since then and we feel that libraries should have their operating costs increased by the government. Now, before the provincial budget is passed, would be the time to contact your MLA and the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to increase library operating grants so that we are able to offer such events to children on a yearly basis without increased costs to the public. Libraries are not all about being quiet anymore; they are public places full of information, entertainment and crafts of all sorts. You can find anything you need to know in your local library!