Summer fun and learning at local libraries


By Elisabeth Westermann

Special to The Almanac

This summer, local libraries are keeping their calendars full of free, drop-in summer events for all ages. Here are some of the highlights:

For children:

Marine Science Institute: Rocky Intertidal, July 23, 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Portola Valley Library, 4 p.m. at Woodside Library The Marine Science Institute's mobile aquarium will be visiting both the Portola Valley and Woodside libraries on July 23. Kids at both sites will learn about tidepool habitats and get to interact with the fish and invertebrates that inhabit those ecosystems.

NorCal Bats, Menlo Park Library, July 25, 7-7:30 p.m. The Menlo Park Library will be hosting NorCal Bats, an organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats, as well as educating the public about these creatures. Attendees will get to meet live bats and learn about bats' important role in the ecosystem.

Improv, Atherton Library, Aug. 3, 2-3 p.m. At this improv workshop geared for ages 7 to 10, students will learn the basic techniques of comedy improv and then try their new skills out.

The Try-It Truck, Menlo Park Library, Aug. 20, 2-4 p.m. The Try-It Truck, an engineering lab on wheels from the Bay Area Discovery Museum, will be returning to the Menlo Park Library to teach the engineering design process and give kids access to both high- and low-tech tools. The event is designed for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Puppetry Festival, Belle Haven Branch, select Saturdays, 2-2:45 p.m. The Belle Haven Branch Library will be hosting puppet shows from a diverse set of performers throughout the summer. The shows are heartwarming and goofy (characters range from pirates to tight-rope-walking flamingos) and will surely spark lots of laughter.

Summer STEAM Club, Woodside Library, 4-5 p.m. Drop in to these weekly workshops that combine art and science, such as making light-up jewelry or slime. The projects are designed for children in elementary and middle school.

Weekly Arts and Crafts, Atherton Library, Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30 p.m. and Woodside Library, Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m. These weekly, drop-in craft sessions are perfect for any child in preschool or elementary school who is looking to get creative.

Story Time, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley libraries, times vary by library Story times are being held throughout the summer for babies, toddlers and preschool-age children. The events use music, movement and books to start building literacy. Check the libraries' calendars for more details, times and information about special sessions, such as bilingual and musically inclusive story times, at

For adults:

E-Media Help, Portola Valley Library, July 18, July 25, 4-7 p.m. Learn how to use e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines and how to access free content on your device in a 30-minute session with former NASA scientist Chris Atwood. Registration is required. Contact the library to sign up.

Film and Discussion: The Bystander Moment: Transforming Rape Culture at its Roots, Menlo Park Library, July 15, 6:30-8 p.m. "The Bystander Moment," a documentary film, explores how friends, teammates, classmates and coworkers can contribute to gender violence. Following the film, a discussion will be led by the staff of Rape Trauma Services. This event is being held in tandem with the traveling exhibit, "Confronting Violence, Improving Women's Lives" which is at the Menlo Park Library until Aug. 17. Through interactive exhibition panels, the exhibit recognizes the nurses who, beginning in the late 1970s, worked toward the prevention of domestic violence.

Movie Screenings, Menlo Park Library, July 23, Aug. 7, Aug. 20, Aug 28, 6:30 p.m. The library will be playing films for adults related to the theme of road trips. The lineup includes "Thelma and Louise," "Do Dooni Chaar," "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," and "Rat Race."

Winning the Vote: the Fight Continues, Menlo Park Library, Aug. 14, 7-8 p.m. The League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed participation in government, will discuss the U.S. women's suffrage movement. The event is timed with the 99th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the legislation that enabled women in the U.S. to vote.

Indian Food from the Fiji Islands, Belle Haven Library, Aug. 17, 1-2:30 p.m. Chef and former restaurant owner Saras Rao will discuss the delicious food of Fiji and its Indian influences. She will also demonstrate how to make a pair of curries and chutney that attendees will get to try.

Michelle Pollace Latin Jazz Trio, Belle Haven Library, Aug. 31, 1-2 p.m. Enjoy live music at the Belle Haven Library with a performance from Bay Area Latin jazz musician Michelle Pollace.

In addition to these events, drop-in book club meetings, arts and crafts activities, game nights, discussion sessions and more are being offered at local libraries this summer. Check the libraries' calendars for information about all events.

Library information

•Menlo Park Library: 800 Alma St., 650-330-2500 or

•Belle Haven Library: 413 Ivy Drive, 650-330-2540 or

•Atherton Library: 2 Dinkelspiel Station Lane, 650-328-2422 or

•Portola Valley Library: 765 Portola Road, 650-851-0560 or

•Woodside Library: 3140 Woodside Road, 650-851-0147 or

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