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Wednesday May 24, 2017
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No More Shushing



"Dare to be bold!" she exclaims to the dozen teens as she darts around the sunlight-filled meeting room in her bare feet, encouraging a few shy participants to try different techniques with the scripts she handed out. She offers her purse as a prop, encouraging two teens to use it in a scene. "Acting is about doing, not saying," she explains. A couple teens have come from as far as Lansing. That evening, a playwriting workshop by Purple Rose staff will give adults their turn with the theater experts.

Karen Persello, who heads Chelsea's youth and teen services, says "anything is fair game" for programs at McKune, expanded and renovated in 2006. Although reading and early literacy is still important--and juvenile books continue to edge out movies at the circulation desk--it's no longer her primary goal as a librarian. "School is for education," she says. "We want kids to associate the library with fun so they keep coming back."

On a Saturday afternoon at Dexter's new library--which opened in March--it's clear from the sound of drums beating that someone's having fun. In the lower-level community room, a group of preteens, teens, and adults sits in a large circle. Everyone has a hand drum balanced between the knees. It's a West African drumming workshop.

"Put the rhythm inside you," a man named Sundance from Chelsea's Tree of Life Cultural Arts Studio encourages the drummers. "Take a bite," he says, grinning. "Can you believe we're making these sounds? Even in a library?"

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