Library Opens a Chapter of Poetry and Summer Fun


By Donna Furey | LB Indy

Pam Chesney-Algar, center standing, presides over story time at the library. Photo by Jody Tiongco.
Pam Chesney-Algar, center standing, presides over story time at the library. Photo by Jody Tiongco.

The winners of the 16th annual Laguna library poetry contest, La Vida Poetica, will step into the spotlight at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and read their winning poems for the public at the downtown library.

In addition to poetry readers, the library serves as home for a popular summer-long reading program led by a new children’s librarian, Pamela Chesny-Algar.

Chesney-Algar needed to “jump right in” to get the summer reading program going, having been re-assigned to Laguna Beach in early June from the San Clemente branch.

She replaced Rebecca Porter, who was transferred to the Ladera Ranch library in south Orange County, said library branch manager Jon Gilliom. More than 150 loyal patrons circulated an on-line petition to protest Porter’s departure without success.

Nonetheless, Laguna’s reading program is steaming ahead with events to delight young readers.

In the first two weeks, 200 children and teens had signed up. Gilliom expects 350 to 400 participants, equal or greater to participation last summer.

Paws to Read is not a competition, but an incentive program, Chesney-Algar said. Kids can enter at any time during the summer and get credit for what they read. The idea is that children stay in practice over the summer so as not to lose their skills thus preventing what she called “summer slide.”

Children who sign up will earn incentives for every two hours of reading, like a free coupon for a kid’s meal at Chipotle Grill or the chance to draw from a treasure chest of small toys and games. Those who finish 10 hours of reading will receive an invitation to a BBQ on Aug. 23 when firefighters hand out awards.

For teens 12-17 years, 7.5 hours of reading also earns them a Chipotle Grill coupon; 15 hours counts toward a $10 gift card. Teens will also receive raffle tickets to win $25 gift cards from Laguna Beach Books.

The first program kicked off with a discussion about habitats and included some animal visitors supplied by the Wildlife Company. Last week, about 80 kids enjoyed an ice cream social and this week a magician entertained.

The reading program boosts visits to the library, which welcomes 13,000 to 14,000 people each month. Patrons check out 7,000 – 8,000 items per month, but also rely on the library to tap online knowledge. In June, 1,850 sessions were tallied on the public computer stations using 102,911 minutes of computer time, said Gilliom. About 950 visitors stopped by with their own devices to access the library’s wireless network.


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