Moniteau County Library officials hope to keep people reading during the winter months with the return of a popular program.
The Winter Checkout Challenge has returned to the library, allowing patrons to enter for chances to win one of 13 themed gift baskets. Other programs, including career-themed storytimes for children and adult craft nights, are continuing throughout the winter.
Jessica George, program and media specialist, said the Winter Checkout Challenge is a program where members can get a ticket every time they check out eligible materials at the library. The tickets can be submitted for drawings to win a gift basket. The program started Jan. 2 and ends Feb. 28, with the winners of the gift baskets to be drawn and contacted March 1.
Connie Beauchamp, library director, said the Winter Checkout Challenge program has helped boost library patronage during winter months.
"Typically the weather's bad and there's sickness and so statistics tend to drop, and this has just exploded our statistics, and this is probably the fifth year we've done this," she said. "We started out doing small things, like we'd get a couple of Kindle Fires and some things. But then we've started ... doing the gift baskets. It's a lot of work and a lot of effort to put them together, but they are so well received."
Beauchamp also said the program helps patrons get acquainted with other materials the library offers, like DVDs and board games. To steer people toward those items, George said many items can earn participants an extra ticket for the drawing. Items eligible for bonus entries include cookbooks, young adult novels, feel-good DVDs, biographies, magazines, television series DVDs, Western DVDs, puzzles, board games, musical DVDs, Latham Award-winning books and non-fiction history books.
"It just helps people go explore other parts, and they say 'Oh, I didn't know you guys had these!,'" Beauchamp said. "... it's really been a very successful program."
Anyone 18 or older with a library card can participate in the program. George said some baskets are only available to patrons 21 or older because they contain alcoholic beverages.
All 13 themed baskets are on display at the library.
In addition to the Winter Checkout Challenge, the library is sponsoring a separate weekly event specifically for children.
During career-themed storytimes held at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday in the Early Literacy Activity Center on the second floor of the library, area professionals read to preschool-age children.
Sheriff Tony Wheatly read to the children Jan. 4, followed by Detective Sgt. Will Thomas, of the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office, on Jan. 11.
George said some scheduled careers featured during the storytimes are "up in the wind," but said firefighters, weather forecasters, paramedics, dump truck drivers, veterinarians, bus drivers, excavator drivers and bakers are on tap to round out the event in coming weeks. The events will run throughout April 26 and are open to the public.
She also said there are openings for presenters. Any local professional wanting to read to children can contact her at 573-796-2642 or by messaging the Moniteau County Library Facebook page to inquire about presenting a storytime. She added that while the event will end April 26, she intends to continue it "after the Summer Reading Program and after we read our books that we have to read for the state."
The library also continues to host its monthly adult craft nights. The craft nights are held 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month between September and April. The events are open to the public, but guests are required to register in advance as the nights are limited to 20 participants. Registration can be completed online or by contacting the library at 573-796-2642.
"It's very flexible," George said. "We try to do crafts that everybody can do very easily."