The Bartow County Library System starting on Friday will offer students in grades five through 12 a chance to take part in the WWE's "WrestleMania Reading Challenge," while Monday will mark the start of the system's observance of the American Library Association's and the Young Adult Library Services Association's "Teen Read Week." While the latter is being observed by the ALA and YALSA Oct. 17 through 23, the local library branches are recognizing it from Monday until Oct. 25 since the branches are closed on Sundays.
Thomas Shalin, Youth Services coordinator for the library system, said these campaigns and others, such as the summer reading program, are designed to get teens to read for pleasure, which can in turn help them as they hit the books for school.
"Teens especially have less free time than ever. There's so many activities -- athletics, after-school activities, some are working, social networking -- there's a lot going on in their lives, and school is also getting harder as well as they've got increasing expectations in the classroom. This is just kind of a way to show teens that reading is something they can do for fun, it's something free and it's relaxing," Shalin said. "And at the same time, that reading for fun translates to better performance in classrooms -- it does help their schoolwork and it's something fun they can do.
"With teens, we see a dip in CRCT scores in some of the upper grades, the graduation rate -- you want to be able to combat that. Anything we can do to help them succeed in school, and reading does do a lot for that," Shalin added. "And also, why we do a lot of programming around [Teen Read Week] is to get a lot of kids in the library who may not normally come here or don't really know what the library has to offer, so it's a way to get teens in the door."
From Friday until Monday, Oct. 25, youths in grades five and six can take part in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge by taking a pledge to read five books before WrestleMania in April; those who present a completed pledge form to library staff will earn WWE trading cards. Participants can also enter a bookmark design contest by designing a bookmark that promotes reading.
Teens in grades seven through 12 can step up to the challenge by taking the reading pledge and by designing a "tag team" featuring themselves and a character from literature. They then have to describe -- through drawn artwork, a story or poem or other form of expression -- how their team would work together to defeat WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre.
Library officials will award prizes to the winners of the bookmark and tag team contests; those top teens also will earn a chance in a national drawing for tickets to WrestleMania 27.
"By the demand I see for wrestling books, I'm hoping we'll get a really good response," Shalin said of the reading challenge.
Starting Monday, teens can take part in the "Great Page Race" to see who can read the most pages by Oct. 25 -- the library system will award the winning teens gift cards to Target. Participants can obtain an entry form from the library branches next week.
In addition to the contests, the library branches will offer several events related to the reading campaigns. Teens can see the PG-13-rated "Across the Universe" Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.; the music-themed movie is to coincide with the Teen Read Week theme of "Books with Beat." The PG-rated "Nacho Libre," which parallels with the wrestling-themed reading challenge, will be shown Thursday, Oct. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. Both movies will be screened at the Cartersville Public Library.
Young patrons can play "WWE vs. Raw" and other video games on the Wii and PlayStation 2 at the Cartersville Public Library Monday, the Adairsville Public Library Tuesday and the Emmie Nelson Public Library in Euharlee Thursday, Oct. 21; all three sessions will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
And teens who visit the Cartersville Public Library's Teen Desk at any time on Oct. 21 and present their library card will receive a special treat.
Library survey available online
Teens as well as older library visitors are requested to take part in the BCLS' community survey.
The survey can be found on the library system's website, bartowlibraryonline.org, by clicking on the "Bartow County Library Community Survey" link. BCLS Director Carmen Sims said the goal of the survey is to get users' input on what they like in the library and what they would like to see in it in the future.
"We're here to serve the community -- we should provide what it is that the community wants, and that varies from community to community," Sims said. "We're doing our five-year strategic plan, and we need this kind of input for that."
The survey asks for respondents' age, the number of people in their household and if they are a county resident. Responders then can mark the library services they use regularly, rate the importance of offered services and more.
"[We have] more traditional services of the library, but if we need to put our energies in another area, then that's where we need to put them," Sims said.