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Posted on: February 1, 2024

Reptiles, reading and fun at the Stillwater Public Library

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Turtles, snakes and other reptiles will find their way inside the Stillwater Public Library (SPL) this February. Aimed at kids and teens in grades three through 12, “Reptiles at the Library” will take place on Friday, Feb. 16, from 1-3 p.m. Joined by graduate students from Oklahoma State University’s Department of Integrative Biology, SPL invites attendees to learn about different reptiles at interactive stations. 

“Reptiles at the Library” is a joint-partnership program that invites curious minds interested in the subject to learn from graduate students studying reptiles. The library will set up 10 stations focused on various learning elements featuring a variety of reptiles, including snakes, turtles, salamanders, geckos and more. 

Elizabeth Murray, children’s librarian, hopes the program will draw kids to the library and encourage them to learn outside the classroom.

“Being able to see and touch a variety of species will bring to life learning for kids beyond what they learn in books and textbooks,” Murray said. “It is wonderful to imagine programs like these that can inspire a child to pursue a degree in Biology in the future.”

In addition to the various interactive stations, kids will have a separate room where they can read to a reptile. This is a fun twist on the more common “Read to a Dog” program. Similar to dogs, reptiles are attentive and non-judgmental listeners for readers who may struggle to read aloud.

Jordan Stine, SPL’s teen librarian, was highly encouraged by the library’s Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) to host this program.

“Teens in TAC are thrilled about having a program focused on reptiles,” Stine said. “After seeing their enthusiasm, I knew we had to make this happen.”

Neil Balchan, a graduate student from the OSU Department of Integrative Biology, first heard about a “Read to a Reptile” event at a conference and wanted to bring the idea to the Stillwater community. Balchan and other graduate students will assist the library in leading different stations and supervising the kids.

“I’ve always been interested in reptiles,” Balchan said. “Uncovering aspects of how snakes or turtles live their daily lives and interact with their environments keeps me motivated to learn more. And as with most topics, digging deeper usually uncovers more questions than answers!” 

Balchan hopes interested kids will further understand what it takes to care for and learn about reptiles.

“We want kids to learn interesting facts about different species of reptiles, such as what is the world’s biggest snake,” Balchan says. “If the kids can form a personal connection with an individual reptile while also learning that cold-blooded animals have personalities, we will consider this event an overwhelming success. Just having the kids interested is huge!” 

Murray and Stine are incredibly grateful to Balchan and the OSU Department of Integrative Biology for assistance with this program. 

Those interested in “Reptiles at the Library” may sign up online at stillwaterok.gov/Library, at (405) 372-3633 x8106 or in person at the library’s Help Desks. Individuals do not have to register to attend, but library staff encourage registration to receive email reminders about the program.

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