Jodi Russ, community librarian at the Bedford Public Library of the Monroe County Library System, says patrons love the elephant sculptures created by elementary students from across the county.
TEMPERANCE — The elephants have arrived at the Monroe County Library System, and they’re attracting a lot of attention at the Bedford Branch.
The cute pachyderms actually are life-size models of baby elephants made by elementary students from across the county. This summer, they’re doing two stints at 10 Monroe County library branches — June 9 to July 14, and Aug. 1 to Sept. 6.
The sculptures consist of a chicken-wire “skeleton” covered with “skin” made of recyclable materials such as paper or cloth. The idea was the brainchild of the River Raisin Institute in Monroe and the goal is to get library visitors to think creatively about ecology, said Christine Greggs, public relations librarian with the library system.
“The baby elephants are symbolic of Mother Earth and the planet,” she said. “This is the first year they’ve been in libraries.”
Representatives of the River Raisin Institute could not be reached. The group sponsors educational works and “promotes the well-being of all creation,” according to its Web site. It was founded by the IHM Sisters.
Strips of cotton T-shirts, paper, pieces of alumi-num, and other recyclable materials cover the chicken wire skeletons of the three elephants that currently guard the main entrance of the Bedford Branch of the Monroe County Library System.
At the Bedford Branch, three elephants opposite the circulation desk, near the main entrance, greet visitors. “People love them,” said Jodi Russ, the branch’s community librarian.
Elephants also are at the Frenchtown, Newport, South Rockwood, Carleton, Erie, Dorsch, Petersburg, and Dundee branches, and the Ellis Library and Reference Center in Monroe, said Ms. Greggs.
The River Raisin Institute Web site explains that elephants “are emotionally similar to humans. Elephants feel pain and love and can reflect on their experiences. While the elephant is enormously strong and powerful, it is also vulnerable. Loss of habitat, extreme weather events, poaching, conflict, and other human actions threaten the survival not only of elephants but thousands of species.”
The arrival of the elephants at the Bedford Branch coincides with the start of the summer reading program. The theme this year is “Groundbreaking Books,” Ms. Russ noted. The books chosen for the summer program were considered innovative or pioneering at their release, she explained.
They include The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Native Son by Richard Wright, Howl and other Poems by Allen Ginsburg, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Fear of Flying by Erica Jong.
For more information, call 734-847-6747.