Published 1:14 am Friday, June 7, 2019

APL program draws record crowd

Andalusia Public Library had one of its biggest crowds ever, and a few exotic animals to boot Thursday when it kicked off its summer reading program.

Children’s librarian Caryl Lee Ray said that 174 kids is one of the largest showings that she has had at a program.

“We usually get around 100 to 150,” Ray said. “But this was great. We were packed and people were even standing out in the hall trying to watch.”

Ray said that the crowd was very receptive to all of the exotic animals brought in.

“We want to bring these things in because we are exposing kids to something that they may never see again,” Ray said. “It just feels like a big family in there and that is what it is all about. It makes me feel good.”

Vicky Arvelo from Animal Tales said that the organization focuses on traveling to different locations to educate students about exotic animals.

“We travel to all types of events, libraries, summer camps and schools to educate the kids,” Arvelo said. “We try to educate them not only about the animals, but about ecosystems and conservation whenever applicable.”

This year, the APL Summer Program’s theme is all about Alabama’s Bicentennial. Arvelo said that it was interesting researching things about Alabama to try and incorporate them into the program.

“Something that I love about Alabama the most, and most people don’t know this, but sometimes it is referred to as the rainforest of North America,” Arvelo said. “Because it has such a unique ecosystem. I mean there is actually a type of salamander that is only found in Alabama and nowhere else in the world. Alabama is just such a unique state. It is so bio diverse and so rich in history.”

Since Arvelo’s degree is in biology, and she is working on her master’s degree, she believes that education is the most important thing when it comes to future generations.

“I am getting my master’s degree in environmental management because I have always really cared about the conservation and I ideally want to get into policies and things like that,” Arvelo said. “I have worked with kids for the past six years of my life and I am really passionate about education because I think that every single problem would be solved if people were just educated. A lot of things that happen in the world is because people or kids aren’t educated, so if I can teach them to coexist with the animals that they just so happen to be neighbors with, then that is all that matters.”

Next Thursday, Andalusia Public Library will host a magician. The fun begins at 3 p.m.