The staff at Mid-Continent Public Library’s Lee’s Summit branch at 150 N.W. Oldham Parkway is always on the look out for ways to increase participation among their patrons and increase the use of the library to promote literacy.
From that quest comes the library’s latest promotion: The Great Worm Race of 2014. Set for 2 p.m. Aug. 9, inside the library’s programming room dubbed Wiggly Field, the worm race is not unique to libraries across the country, nor to Mid-Continent, but after years of hiatus, the slothful event is back in Lee’s Summit as a late-summer adventure for children ages five and up and their earth-crawling companions.
“It’s open to all worms,” said Dylan Little, Mid-Continent’s assistant branch manager in Lee’s Summit. “It should be a great event. We’ve done it in years past, but I’m not quite sure when the last time they’ve did it.”
Little said the contest is just another quirky way to entice residents of Lee’s Summit to take advantage of their local library.
“The worm race is not necessarily direct ties to literacy, but sometimes you’ve just kind of got to throw an end-of-the-summer party,” he said. “Any event we do is a great opportunity for folks to learn more about our offerings here. The worm race itself may not have any literacy elements, but it will be a drag out race to the finish. It should be a lot of fun.”
Libraries across the country have embraced the notion of worm races as promotion. At the Rhinelander District Library in Rhinelander, Wis., the staff there has hosted worm races for more than 25 years. Just last week the library celebrated its 27th annual worm race to raise money for children’s programming at the library.
Sixty teams of two took part in the latest edition of what they call the Great Library Worm Race.
“It is part of our summer reading theme every year,” said Cheryle Miller, Rhinelander’s associate children’s librarian. “It’s just a way to get the kids into the library and have fun at the library.”
Miller said contestants in Lee’s Summit should expect a slow and steady race and a lot of hooting and hollering to egg on the wiggly competitors.
“All of our races are enthusiastic,” she said. “We have a 120 kids who just can’t wait to get out there and race. We actually have trophies for first, second and third”
Little said he expects the same fun and enthusiasm at Mid-Continent, but added a caveat for non-winners may be dire.
“Whoever wins the worm race is offered amnesty to any fisherman who may be interested in using the worms for harmful purposes,” he said with a laugh. “Choosing the right worm is a very important decision.”