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What's going On At Your Local Library


March 12, 2020

Mental Health

The Pioneer Library System is taking its communities into a deep look at the importance of mental health as the theme for this year’s PLS Reads initiative.

Readers across the three-county PLS area will interact with the theme through the novel “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine,” written by Gail Honeyman.

Both the Shawnee and Tecumseh libraries will host community discussions of the book, each led by a mental health professional onsite to facilitate.

The Tecumseh Public Library will host its PLS Reads discussion at 6 pm Monday, March 16, with the Shawnee library’s similar event scheduled in a month, at 6:30 pm Thursday, April 16. Readers can obtain a copy of the book through either library in advance of the discussions.

The book, selected as part of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club in 2019, is also a former No. 1 New York Times bestseller. It focuses on the topic of mental health through its main character, Eleanor Oliphant, and her adventures in daily life as she makes her way after a difficult past. It was the winner of the Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Book of the Year in 2018.

For the past 13 years, PLS has participated in both The Big Read and PLS Big Read, inspired by the National Endowment for the Arts. Activities now will continue into the future under the “PLS Reads” theme. Multiple libraries will host activities in the coming months to continue the discussion in their communities.

PLS Reads is sponsored by the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation and the Pioneer Library System Foundation.

Poetry Contest

The Shawnee Public Library invites children and teens to be part of its second annual Live Loud! Jim Spurr Poetry Contest and Celebration of Young Poets.

Entries are being taken for the contest throughout April, with winners to be announced during a celebration event at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the library, 101 N. Philadelphia Ave.

The contest features divisions for 4th through 6th grades; 7th through 9th grades; and 10th through 12th grades. Each poet may submit up to three original works that are not more than one page in length. The entry deadline is April 30.

Writers have a chance to polish their skills and get ideas at a pair of writing workshops during April.

Wordplay: Poetry for Everyone, takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4, in Rooms A and B of the library. Creative Writing students from Oklahoma Baptist University will lead a workshop for students in sixth through eighth grade on basics of poetry writing. It’s suitable for writers of any skill level.

The class will be offered a second time, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, at Shawnee’s Coffee N Crafts, 5 E. Main St. This version will be geared to older students in grades 9 through 12 and feature many of the same activities.

The poetry contest is named in honor of Jim Spurr, the Poet Laureate of Shawnee, and his love of poetry and belief that it makes a difference in people’s lives. Along with division award winners, a Jim Spurr Award for Best of Contest will be selected.

Dr. Brent Newsom, poet, OBU professor and Shawnee Library Advisory Board member, will speak at the final celebration event May 3. Contest winners also will be invited to read their poems at the event.

An entry form for participants will be available on the library website at A completed form should be submitted along with poems to the Children’s Desk at the library.

The contest is sponsored by the Friends of the Shawnee Public Library.

For more information, call the library at 275-6353 or go online to

Family Engagement Project

The Pioneer Library System has been selected as one of the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness’ (OPSR) Public Library Family Engagement Project grantees, the organization has announced.

This project will help fund Pioneer’s Growing Like a Read and Read2Me programs which promote reading to infants and toddlers. Pioneer is one of 29 awardees chosen by OPSR as grantees.

“For many young children, these are their first books. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with OPSR to continue these programs and help thousands of youth engage in early literacy,” said Lisa Wells, Executive Director of the Pioneer Library System.

Library services are crucial to help young children develop language skills. In fact, brain research has shown that talking, singing and reading can have a positive impact on early speech and language. The Public Library Family Engagement Project’s goal is to equip families with knowledge and offer an early introduction to literature and technology to infants and toddlers.

“OPSR is proud to work with Pioneer Library System to support stimulating early literacy opportunities for infants and toddlers,” said Debra Andersen, OPSR executive director. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without our partners the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA).

“Thanks to the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five, we’re grateful to be able to support libraries across the state and families who are passionate about enriching the lives of their children.”

The Pioneer Library System’s Growing Like a Read and Read2Me programs encourage parents to start reading with their children from an early age by providing books, educational story times, and literacy kits to families.

In 2003, House Bill 1094 created the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (OPSR) and added Oklahoma to a growing list of states that recognized more action is required to successfully support families and children from birth to preschool — thus improving school readiness.

The Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness was awarded more than $3 million dollars from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education via the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five, now known as OKFutures. This one-year grant is focused on improving the coordination and quality of existing early childhood services as well as increasing families’ knowledge and capacity to support their children, from birth to five-years-old.


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