The Best Summer Entertainment in Chandler
The public library is one of my favorite summer hacks for free movies, music, books, magazines and programs for kids of all ages. You can even download free bestseller e-books from the comfort of your living room. For all this and more, all you need is a Chandler Public Library card and some time to peruse all they have to offer.
The library also has free Wi-Fi, study rooms, job seeking help, computer classes, volunteer opportunities and plenty of friendly staff.
“Besides being employed by one of the best library systems in Arizona, I love what we have to offer to our community,” says Sandra Mendoza a library assistant who’s worked there for 14 years.
The Chandler Public Library has plenty of free classes for teens including Minecraft, yoga, silkscreen printed t-shirts, design your own superhero logo, puppet making, teen murder mystery, superhero mask window clings and duct tape hero designs. They also offer teen movie nights, book readings for kids and programs for adults, too.
“One of my favorite teen programs was when we celebrated Ben Franklin’s Birthday by doing Minute to Win It style games based on Ben’s inventions,” says Mendoza. “I knew it was a hit when the kids kept wanting to challenge each other to the games even when I’d run out of prizes.”
Mendoza tries to run as many programs as possible by the Teen Advisory Council.
“Their input was crucial in deciding what presenters to invite to Basha Library for Summer Reading programs,” she adds. “They also inspired the Duct Tape Craft program.”
Most of the programs are well attended with group size ranging between 15 to 30 people, depending on available space and supplies. Anything that involves prizes or food tend to be more popular. Many of the teen attendees are regulars at the library, but there are always a few new faces at each event.
Mendoza runs most of the programs, with a generous support from her fellow library assistants.
“We do occasionally have paid presenters like Joanna from our recent henna program, and volunteer presenters, like Louis Robinson from Robinson Dog Training,” says Mendoza. “I am hoping to have teens actually come up with and lead their own programs during the next school year.”
Another great opportunity at the library is the teen volunteer program that accepts children 12 years and up.
“I love my volunteers,” says Mendoza. “They are a great asset to the library and the community. They bring in new ideas and are very creative.”
Volunteers must participate in a volunteer overview and orientation at their Chandler library of choice. The overview discusses the Teen Volunteer Handbook, training on the SRP website to practice logging in reading points and they are given a library tour.
Volunteer jobs vary, but in the summer teens are needed to man the Summer Reading table, and hand out prizes to those who have complete the reading game board. Other jobs include assisting with craft preparation, searching for holds and shelf-reading. Volunteers do a minimum of two-hour shifts, but they can work multiple days per week if the schedule permits. There are no more than two volunteers per shift.
“Some of our volunteers end up being library employees when they turn 16,” says Mendoza.
TEEN VOLUNTEER TURNS EMPLOYEE
“Teen Volunteering is extremely important in the library,” says Elisia Simmons, a library assistant. “It connects teens to the community and continues to build their love for the library that will last a lifetime.”
Simmons was a library goer as a child, since the downtown location was just a mile from her house.
“As I continued to grow up in the library, so did my love and appreciation,” says Simmons. “When I turned 12, I immediately started volunteering, which led to my first job at 16. From there, my work and volunteer experience brought me to where I am today. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am now in life without teen volunteering. This thought regularly reminds me as I work with teens through programs and volunteer opportunities.”
Simmons is a fan of the library for so many reasons.
“Our free programs foster creativity, individuality and a love for the library,” she says. “There is always something going on!”
In addition to all the fun that can be had at the Chandler Public Libraries, Mendoza points out an important fact.
“Libraries continue to play a major role in fostering literacy in our nation and are in a remarkable position to expose children to great quantities of print and meaningful language opportunities,” she says. “During summer months, children can continue their reading skills by participating in summer reading programs. Our summer programs seek to attract large numbers of children to the library, a time when reading skills often decline.”
Some classes require registration, visit ChandlerLibrary.org, check out the calendar page to see what’s available and sign up. There are four Chandler library locations and they always appreciate when people donate volunteer hours or make generous monetary contributions.