LARCHWOOD—Sylvia Van’t Hul encourages people to check out and use their respective community’s public library.

The director of the Larchwood Public Library takes pride in the programs and services the facility provides for the Lyon County city of about 900 and the surrounding area.

“Larchwood is a gem of a town and we are proud of our library,” Van’t Hul said.

The library offers a monthly adult reading program, a summer reading program for children of all ages and story time for preschool-age children.

By participating in the adult reading program, people could win a prize if they read a book, watch a DVD, read a newspaper or periodical or read to another person.

Items that people use for the program must have been checked out from the library. Prizes are provided by the Friends of the Library group.

People who participate in the program each fill out a form with their name and what they used from the library and turn in the form to take part in monthly drawings for a prize.

“Every month, we have someone else come up with a basket of things to give away,” Van’t Hul said. “Every month, it’s just something different. There’s always a book with it.”

The library’s summer reading program for children runs every year for four weeks during June. The theme for each year is selected by the State Library of Iowa to encourage children to read during the summer.

“We have one performer each week,” Van’t Hul said. “It varies every year. We usually try to get a magician or a juggler or a storyteller or a program from a zoo.”

Story time at the library is offered 10-10:45 a.m. each Tuesday for 30 weeks during each school year. Children listen to stories, do a craft and receive a treat.

The Larchwood Betterment Club’s Kids’ Club — a summer day-care program for children who have completed kindergarten through sixth grade — visits the library each Thursday morning during summer vacation.

“They do a craft and they check out some books,” Van’t Hul said.

The library offers a room strictly for children’s books and a place where kids may play with toys away from other patrons.

Children also are encouraged to help out the library annually with its fairy garden full of colorful characters, decorations and flowers located outside north of the facility.

“We work on that every year,” Van’t Hul said. “It’s different every year.”

The library takes pride in its Friends group, which raises funds and offers volunteer services for the library. Its members meet once a month, but usually not during the summer.

The Friends group helps out the library with its various programs, including purchasing children’s books and craft supplies for story time, and holds annual fundraising events for the library such as a book sale and supper.

“We have a nice, strong Friends group,” Van’t Hul said. “They give us money to buy materials.”

In addition to the Friends group, the library’s board of trustees also meets at the facility monthly.

“We have public meeting space,” Van’t Hul said. “Groups may come in if they like and meet.”

The library provides printed books and periodicals as well as other media for its patrons to check out while the facility is open. There also are two computers with online access and a Wi-Fi connection available for public use.

“You get to know your people” Van’t Hul said. “You know what they like and what they want. They should be able to ask you for things, so you get exactly what they want.”