Puppeteer Greg Genna and audience member Annika Oestrike, 6, from Toledo entertain audience members before a performance by the bevy of puppets Mr. Genna used to put on a show.
With a flick from a hand high above, a 12-pound, wood-carved marionette perked up from a slump.
The puppet’s feet walked. Its long tail wagged. And the children crowded around its puppeteer began to giggle.
Not exactly the scene some might expect during a Sunday afternoon at the library.
“It’s OK to make noise. I know it’s a library, but today’s the day you get to break the rules,” said Greg Genna, a puppeteer from Barberton, Ohio, who put on a Stevens Puppets production of Beauty and the Beast.
Sunday’s event at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library on Michigan Street in downtown Toledo kicked off National Library Week, which runs through Saturday. As part of the event, the library system is recognizing its 175th anniversary and welcoming patrons to branches for special activities such as the puppet show.
“I like to go into the children’s room,” said Talaya Warren, 9, of Toledo. “I just get a book and start reading.”
She joined several dozen parents and children at the library for the puppet show, based on a traditional French version of the fairy tale not as recognizable to some in attendance as the animated Walt Disney movie.
For a library with a history that dates back to 1838, tradition and progress mark its many years. The Toledo Young Men’s Association launched the local library about the same time Charles Dickens’ book Oliver Twist was published, a fact pointed out by Meg Delaney, downtown library manager. By 1911, the library offered piano rolls — its first alternate format — for patrons’ player pianos.
Technology, of course, keeps moving, and the library has worked to stay current with new inventions — computers, portable devices, and tablets.
The Stevens Puppets' performance on Sunday of 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Toledo Lucas-County Public Library in downtown on Michigan Street marked the start of National Library Week.
“The content is consistent but the format, the delivery method changes all the time,” Ms. Delaney said.
In the library’s first incarnation, 66 residents paid $2 yearly to access the 500 books it stocked. An 1873 reorganization with the Toledo Board of Education made the Toledo Public Library free for patrons.
In 1890, the library opened a building at Madison Avenue and Ontario Street, a site that boasted the nation’s first library department just for children. It outgrew the space, and by 1940 the Main Library — referred to as a “department store of information” — opened at 325 N. Michigan St. in downtown Toledo.
Lucas County and Sylvania library systems merged with Toledo to create the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in 1970.
Library spokesman Rhonda Sewell said the library plans events to honor the anniversary milestone throughout the year, culminating in a Sept. 7 fund-raising event featuring historian David McCullough.
“Really because of National Library Week kicking off on Sunday, we thought that’s the perfect time to shed light on our history,” she said.
Each April, the American Library Association recognizes libraries and librarians during the celebratory week. As part of the festivities, the local library will waive fines for overdue materials returned this week.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6065.