Stop in at the South Coastal Library on a Saturday, and some of the coolest kids around might be building some super-awesome things.
Started last summer, the library’s Lego Club has continued through the winter, with a solid group of returning kids, library assistant (a.k.a. “Lego Lady”) Rachel Noguera said.
Depending on the weather or other factors, Noguera said, she’ll see anywhere from five to 23 youngsters when the Lego Club meets on a Saturday afternoon — monthly during the “off-season,” and bi-weekly during the summer on Saturdays as well as a weekday.
The room where the club is held, Noguera said, “looks like a war zone” when kids and Legos come together — a phenomenon many parents will recognize. But at the end of the hour, all the little colored bricks have found homes again, thanks to copious plastic containers where the Legos are sorted by color.
Anyone whose children have owned Legos knows the struggle over how to sort them. Color? Size? Shape? Type? (Lego Star Wars vs. Lego City, etc.) The debate rages on, but Noguera said the color system works for her purposes.
Noguera said the Lego Club was an idea that was waiting for her when she joined the South Coastal staff last year, left by a former assistant librarian who hadn’t had the chance to implement it.
“They handed me the file, and I said, ‘Of course!’” she said.
While she didn’t have any Legos when she started, Noguera found that all she had to do was put the word out that she was looking for donations, and soon her Lego needs were met.
“They came in all sorts of thing — a suitcase, a garbage bag, boxes,” she said. “Now we have them in spades.”
Some of the children who come to Lego Club like to work on whatever they feel like doing, but “some like to have structure,” Noguera said, so she offers different themes for her Lego builders. Some recent themes have included a haunted house in October and holiday decorations in December, as well as tree houses (for which Noguera said “we had a lot of crazy stuff”), snow machines and pets.
As the pets theme didn’t specify real or imagined animals, Noguera said, “Some I recognized, and some I didn’t even know the name of.”
Sometimes the Lego builders are happy to work by themselves, and sometimes there are group projects. It depends on the week, and on the personalities of the participants.
“There’s one little girl I call ‘the delegator,’ because she goes around and recruits other kids to help her build her castles,” she said.
Noguera said she also likes to have special activities, such as the Lego bingo game she held at the end of last summer. There were special prizes for top finishers, and “they had a lot of fun,” she said, “Everybody went home with something.”
While Noguera said the Lego Club meetings during the summer get more attendees, she has enjoyed getting to know the local children during the off-season.
“The children of this area are quite something else,” she said. “I’m always amazed at their creativity and their sense of wonder.”
Noguera said she often plays music during Lego time, and she said the Lego kids are “not shy” about making requests. Although they usually ask for “typical” children’s music selections, she had one boy ask for Frank Sinatra.
“I said ‘THE Frank Sinatra?’” she said. The boy assured her that’s who he meant. “I mean — he was 7!” Noguera said.
She said one of the benefits of Lego Club is something she wasn’t really expecting but that she’s happy to see.
“There are lots of new families moving here,” she said, “and kids are coming here and making new friends.”
The South Coastal Library Lego Club is designed for children ages 6 to 11 and currently meets monthly. The next meeting is Saturday, March 9, at 1 p.m. For more information, call the library at (302) 539-5231. The South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. No registration is necessary during the off-season, but during the summer, registration will be required.
In other Lego-related news, the Selbyville Public Library is offering children a chance to participate in Harry Potter-themed Lego builds each Monday in March at 3:30 p.m., to celebrate Youth Art Month. For more information, call the library at (302) 436-8195. The Selbyville Public Library is located at 11 S. Main Street, Selbyville.
By Kerin Magill