Library event brings a T-Rex, tea and a lesson in manners

Children enjoying dinosaurs, tea and manners. Photo by Sara Button.

MARFA — Focusing on more than literacy, the Marfa Public Library held a T-Rex Tea Party event this past Saturday that worked with its younger patrons on important skills like table manners. Patrons aged three and up gathered in the community room to paint tea pots, practice manners, roar like dinosaurs and, of course, read books.

Children practiced their tea-time skills such as curtsying or bowing and were encouraged to practice their dinosaur skills like stomping and roaring too.

Parents are able to register their children online for events like T- Rex Tea Party ahead of the event date, which allows the library enough time and supplies for all interested children.

Additionally, to help some of the youngest library patrons get ready to enter school, the library also offers Kinder Skills classes which are held on the first Thursday of the month at 10 a.m.   “We work with them on skills like writing and coloring, gluing and cutting and things like zipping, snapping and tying clothes and shoes,” Roane said. “Our movement class also helps them out by teaching them to follow directions and play with others as well as working on their gross motor skills.”

This is all part of a broader initiative to offer more programming in 2020, and as a Tocker Foundation grant recipient for programming, the library is able to do just that. The Tocker Foundation offers grants to help fund libraries throughout the state of Texas.

Marfa Public Library has been a recipient of Tocker Foundation grants before for furniture, shelving and their Integrated Library System, but this is the first grant they’ve received from the Tocker Foundation for programming.

“We have gotten funds in the past that were focused on bringing in artists and performers,” Library Director Mandy Roane said, “but this is the first one that does such complete programming.”

A full year of programming for all patrons, preschoolers to adults, is covered through this grant. It covers weekly classes like Zumba, Kids Create, and ESL as well as bi-monthly/monthly programs like Preschool Movement Class, Kinder Readiness classes, and the adult crafter meetup Get Crafty!

“There are not a lot of things for kids to do in this town,” Arlene Conners, assistant library director, said. “We are trying to make it where there are events that the kids can come out to and enjoy the library, especially the new community room. I think it brings a lot of people together – parents get to talk to one another, the kids make new friends. It’s a nice community, and this is something different.”

The grant will also cover supplies and artists for summer reading, MPL Day and some other events. “The grant also includes things for outreach like a canopy and tech supplies to go to different events and help people sign up for cards and tell them everything we have going on – which is a lot!” Roane said.

In addition to special programming like T-Rex Tea Time, the library offers quarterly events for third through sixth graders and separately, seventh through twelfth graders. Later this month, the library will host a slime party for third through sixth graders on Saturday, February 22 at 1 p.m.

The slime party will let kids create their own slime with different mix-ins to take home. If they want, they can also enter it to see who has the prettiest, grossest and best-sounding slime.

“Bad Art Night is a fun, stress-free way for our teen patrons to create art,” Roane said. They’ll bring out all sorts of odds-and-ends art supplies and let the kids see who can create the most horrible art. Whoever creates the worst piece will get a tacky trophy and a book.

The library also offers quarterly family events, Roane said, and the next one will be in March to end Spring Break. That is in addition to the events they will have the Monday through Friday of Spring Break for kids who aren’t able to go out of town.

“In the next few weeks, we’ll also be planning our summer reading,” Roane said, “which is pretty busy for us.”

Regular weekly programming at the library includes Monday night Zumba at 6 p.m. for teens and adults, Kids Create on Tuesday at 4 p.m., Story Time on Wednesday at 10 a.m., and ESL on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

All of the programs at Marfa Public Library are always free. The library never charges for anything, which is why organizations like the Tocker Foundation are so important for programming expansions. “We wouldn’t be able to provide all of the programs we do without their generous support,” Roane said.