FORT FRANCES—All “Caramel” needs is to have his passport photo taken—then the guinea pig will be all set for his summer travels around the district.
“The idea is that Caramel is going to visit all of the libraries in our surrounding area,” explained Alicia Subnaik Kilgour, CEO of the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre.
“He’s going to promote the ‘TD Summer Reading’ program [for children],” she noted.
“The theme this year is ‘GO,’ like travel, so he’s going to have a little passport with his picture in it,” Subnaik Kilgour added.
“So as he travels to each of the different libraries, they’re going to have a chance to have their communities and families come and visit with him.”
Caramel’s passport will be identical to that of the children who participate in the program. But while the kids will collect stickers, secret codes, and prizes, Caramel will be getting his passport stamped in three different towns.
“He’s going to Rainy River first, so I’m going to drive him there this weekend,” Subnaik Kilgour said.
“And then he’s going to stay in Rainy River for the week of July 8-13.”
She noted the Rainy River librarian then will drive Caramel to the Emo Public Library, where he’ll stay for two weeks (July 15-26).
“Then he’s going to come back and be at home with us for a little while, and then I’m going to drive him out to Atikokan [from Aug. 5-17],” Subnaik Kilgour added.
“We’re going to send him with some food, his shavings, and his carry case,” she remarked, noting the other libraries currently are securing aquariums or similar living arrangements for his stay.
After his very busy summer, Caramel will make it back here just in time for the wrap-up party for the reading program on Aug. 22.
“What’s nice is that he’s going to travel with his summer reading,” Subnaik Kilgour said.
“So he’ll have some
recommendations and his favourite books that he’s going to travel with.
“We’re also going to send a visitors’ book, too, so when people visit him, they can sign the book,” she added.
Subnaik Kilgour noted the other three librarians are eager for their visitor to come.
“Yes, they’re very excited about it,” she enthused.
“It all started when we had a regional networking meeting here at the library in Fort Frances,” she recalled. “We had a lot of librarians come from the surrounding area and they fell in love with him [Caramel].”
“One of the librarians from Rainy River said, ‘Can I take him home?’
“We got talking and we thought this might be a fun thing to do this year, especially with the theme being ‘GO’ and travel,” Subnaik Kilgour explained.
“We also thought this would be a great way to promote library services in our area, and to promote summer reading in kids,” she reasoned.
The “GO” reading program, hosted by the TD Bank this year, sees children aged three and up earn stickers and secret codes to enter online for every three books they read.
For children who read 20 or more books, there will be a celebration at the end of summer sponsored by the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club.
The Kiwanis also will be providing prizes for the program.
Children can sign up for the program at the libraries in Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River.
The Atikokan library is holding a different program following the theme, “Amazing Race.”