Kent Free Library offers year-round programming for all ages


The entrance into the Kent Free Library.

Isabella Stewart Reporter

The public library located in Kent is part of the Portage Library Consortium and has a mission to meet the educational, recreational, informational and cultural needs of the community and citizens of Kent.

Before the global pandemic, Kent Free Library was able to host close to 20 programs a week for the youth. During COVID-19, that number went down to 12 virtual programs a week with the same concept as the in-person ones. 

The youth programs include cooking activities, STEM projects, messy crafts (that kids may not be able to do at home), storytimes for babies through preschoolers on a weekly basis and book groups for the older children. 

Shelley Hall, the Youth Services manager, explained that the programs are designed to start a passion for reading at a young age. 

“In the library, we do a lot of programs in the early years for literacy and to instill a love of reading and a love for the library at a young age so that they continue to come into the library as they get older,” Hall said.

The library does frequent outreach programs at the local schools and daycares to get the children excited about coming to the library. 

“I think the library is more than just a space with books. I think it’s more of a gathering and a community space. I think it’s a great way to build friendships. But I also think it’s a great way to create lifelong learners who appreciate and always utilize the library because that’s what they’ve known growing up with.” Hall said.

For the adults, Kent Free Library hosts an adult book club where attendees get to read the same book and gather to have detailed discussions. Each month, there is a selected theme and the library creates activities and brings in guest speakers to talk about topics surrounding the theme. 

Kristen Pool, the Adult Services manager, said that while restrictions were in place due to the pandemic, all programs were virtual which allowed the library to seek out speakers that they may have not gotten to come to the library. 

“Last week, we had a wonderful speaker who is a neurologist and she wrote a wonderful book. And you know, she wouldn’t be a person we could ever afford to bring in all the way to talk to us.”

“Now that restrictions are lowering, programming is going back to in person. Our patrons have been very eager to return and we’re happy to do that for them. Going into fall, all of our programs will be back to in person,” Pool said. 

Kent Free Library serves a diverse population of citizens who are a part of different surrounding communities. The employees work hard to ensure there are programs and materials that please everyone entering the library. 

“We have a lot of different people in the building for a lot of different reasons every day and we’re kind of constantly shifting to make sure that we’re serving the needs of each page,” Pool said. 

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Isabella Stewart is a reporter. Contact them [email protected].