As statewide COVID restrictions lessen, the Galway Public Library is making use of its new library building and 13-acre property to schedule summer programming.
“We’ve been waiting for years to get the new library, so we have more space and the ability to do a larger program,” said Debra Flint, library director.
One of those programs is a “Color Your Summer” Outdoor Art Series, which will take place throughout the month of July. The series includes three, one-week workshop sessions. Each workshop will run Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
According to Flint, when the new library building opened in September 2019, staff constructed a long-term plan of activities and events. “The community wanted more educational and entertaining programming. They could learn things while having fun,” she said.
While the library planned this Outdoor Art Series for Summer 2020, its first summer on the new property, it had to push it to Summer 2021 because of COVID restrictions.
Registration for the “Color Your Summer” workshops opened at the beginning of June, and is open to adults and kids over eight years old. Registration is free for kids, while adults will be charged $10 per week-long-workshop, which will be donated to the external sites where some sessions will be held, Flint said.
Each class has a cap of 15 students.
The first workshop, Fun with Pastels, will be held July 12, 14, and 16 with local Galway artist Carolyn Justice.
Mary Cuffe Perez, longtime Galway resident and retired writer, is the instructor for the second workshop, “Writing Your Own Nature Story,” on July 19, 21, and 23. Perez worked closely with Flint to come up with the framework for the Outdoor Art Series, and wrote the grant for the program.
The library received a community grant from the Saratoga Arts Council and New York Council on the Arts for the series.
Perez said she plans to use a fantasy children’s book that she wrote, “Gnarlys of the North Woods” as the model for her nature story class. She will hold class sessions at both the Galway library and Into the Woods Farm, to help her students weave the natural world into their stories.
Perez also said she is excited to teach a class to both kids and adults – “I don’t ever write down to kids or talk down to kids. There is a wonder in kids and adults that this will touch upon.”
Galway Senior library clerk Sarah Best, will be teaching the final workshop, Introduction to Belly Dancing, July 26, 28, and 30. Best regularly teaches art classes for both kids and adults, and she has been a belly dancing instructor for 11 years.
“I wanted to bring [belly dance] into the community as a fun way to get healthy, try something new, and get a different kind of art,” she said.
In addition to the three class weeks, there will be a culminating art festival at the Galway library on August 7, for the participants and instructors to showcase their work.
While Flint has been pulling together library resources and community members for the Outdoor Art Series, Julie Pasieka, youth services coordinator at the library, has created a Story Walk on the trail behind the library.
“I had used the trails behind the property myself and had always thought that they were so beautiful. We are a very community focused library, and I thought that having a Story Walk back there would be a great opportunity for the community,” said Pasieka.
Pasieka selected the book “The Keeper of Wild Words” by Brooke Smith for the Story Walk, though she plans to update the trail with a new book seasonally. Pasieka said she and her two young sons spent a couple weeks reading many of the library’s nature themed books before deciding that “The Keeper of Wild Words” suited the trail best.
She estimated that the trail can be walked in 10 to 15 minutes, and the book’s 62 pages are velcroed onto posts, spaced evenly across the trail.
“I think [the Story Walk] is going to serve the community by getting families outside into nature and exercising, while they are learning through reading the story. It combines multiple things that will benefit families and children,” said Galway resident Nyrelle Horton, who helped Pasieka clear the trail for the Story Walk.
The Story Walk is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
For both Flint and Pasieka, the support of the Galway community has been essential in setting up their summer projects for success. “It’s really been a community effort to make it happen,” said Pasieka.