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Last updated: February 17. 2013 5:30AM - 8 Views

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WILKES-BARRE – Thirty years ago the Osterhout Free Library opened the Ken L. Pollock Children's Wing to better facilitate reading and learning for local kids. On Saturday, the library celebrated the wing's 30th anniversary with its "Wing Fling."


Local children were treated to storytelling, games, magicians and other treats, all as a way to continue the message of the importance of reading and learning during the early years.


Elaine Rash, youth services coordinator for the library, was working there when the wing opened. Since then, she said, it has provided many valuable services to the community. Offering a variety of programs all year, the library tries to keep learning fresh, fun and interesting for local children.


One of the biggest challenges since it opened has been keeping up with the increasing costs associated with the numerous changes in technology and even the costs of old-fashioned books, Rash said.


"We went from card catalogs to computers," she said. "Now we have to work to provide e-books," she added.


However, Rash stresses most children go to the library to read books.


The event included Tuckers' Tales Puppet Theatre's presentation of "The Bookaneers" and "Aesop's Fables," Pat Ward's Magic Show and Balloon Animals, storyteller Mary Baker, and awards programs and refreshments.


Hanna Chocallo, a 10-year-old from Wilkes-Barre, won first prize for her essay on what she likes most about the library. She described in her essay how she really enjoys the large variety of books and other media, such as digital discs.


Jocelyn Chocallo, Hanna's mother, said they attend the library on a regular basis.


"We like the library because it encourages reading," she said. "If you can read, you can do anything," she added.


Samantha Ashford won first prize for her poster drawing. She created a colorful portrait of library activities highlighting the reading dogs.


Richard Miller, executive director of the library, said the children's wing has been a "huge success."


"The Osterhout was one of the first libraries in the state to have a children's wing," he said. "It's a very innovative idea," he added.


Miller lauded the staff at the library and how they have strived at the children's wing to make reading fun. They encourage children to enjoy it as opposed to taking it on as a responsibility. He added that research shows children who begin reading at an early age are more likely to succeed in their future educational pursuits.


"The staff here is very creative and they do a lot of outreach," he said.


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