Painting at the library

A room full of painters participate Benson Memorial Library’s painting night that took place earlier this month.

Kids love making a mess. Becky Stahl, Benson Memorial Library’s youth services librarian, understands that while kids like playing in the dirt, not all parents want to clean up from these type of activities. So, the Benson Memorial Library, at their STEM ocean experiments activity on Thursday morning, brought the mess to the library’s front lawn.

“You might not want to do this at home, so why not come play and learn at the library,” said Stahl.

Playing in an oil spill, what was actually water mixed with coco powder, kids got the chance to learn about the ocean, the environment and how to keep their friends in the ocean safe. The STEM experiment activity was one of many that the library has held this summer, with many more still on the calendar.

Out on the library’s front lawn Thursday morning were two pools. One was filled with sink or float figures, the other filled with murky water with whales and other sea creatures swimming around.

Learning while playing

Becky Stahl, youth services librarian, (left) cleans oil off of marine animals at STEM Ocean Experiments class with seven-year-old Zara Sewak.

Kids were asked to take the animals, swimming around in water that had been through an oil spill, clean them off with dish soap and toothbrushes, and put them in the clean pool of water.

“The oil spill smells suspiciously like chocolate,” said Stahl.

The goal of the event, according to Stahl, “was to have kids learn science concepts through doing.” She said the activity helps kids build up their “tactile muscles” and gives them a chance to learn while they might not even realize they are doing so.

The event, like many others that the library hosts, is supposed to be a place where kids can learn the basics. Playing in kiddie pools with animals may seem a little silly, but as Stahl said, it is all about building a foundation.

“We want kids to learn early on so that they can build upon this knowledge later on,” she said.

The ocean STEM experiment activity was just one event this week that the library held. On Monday, the library had a highly- attended craft night event. On Tuesday they had Tales on the Trails, story time on the Queen City Trail, and library lawn story time.

After taking time off from in-person events during the height of the pandemic, the library is really taking advantage of the summer season.

“We are really excited to bring back in-person experiences for all ages at the library,” said Jess Hilburn, executive director of the library. “While our programs never stopped during the pandemic and we were able to pivot to online, we love seeing our patrons in person and are happy to bring everyone back for new free educational and entertainment experiences.”

Over the summer, the library hosts a Summer Reading Program and tries to tie in events to help kids want to read. If kids keep track of their reading, they can get some prizes for the time they spent engulfed in the worlds that are portrayed in many of the stories found in the library’s stacks.

The summertime events include story times on the Queen City Trail and at the library every Tuesday, take and make crafts every Monday, and one-time events like live music from Tyler Ripper on Aug. 12, and Tupelo Acres Alpacas coming to the library for a meet and greet on Aug. 17.

During the school year, the library likes to have some programming available. But with kids in school, they want to offer fun activities to be done after kids have spent time in the classroom.

In the summer, the library likes to act as a fun classroom in itself to keep kids learning.

“Combatting the summer slide kids can experience in the summer by offering incentives for continued reading and learning is something we are passionate about,” said Hilburn.

The library is for more than just kids though. It’s for learners of all ages. To give the adults some fun learning opportunities, the library is hosting Mocktail Monday on Aug. 8, where attendees can learn about non-alcoholic drinks and sample some of the creations.

They are also holding a board games night with games for all ages. Those who want to play can learn how to play some non-traditional games, or jump right in playing some of their favorites.

“We also love offering programs for adults to keep everyone engaged with the library year-round,” said Hilburn.

With so much going on at the local library, the staff asks that the community continues to monitor their Facebook page and the Tap Into Titusville community calendar to keep up with all the events they are holding.

Even when kids go back to school, the events at Benson Memorial Library don’t stop.

“While we definitely go all out for the summer program, events and programs are continually being added and we will have even more to look forward to this fall,” said Hilburn.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at

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